Over in Formula One, Fernando Alonso hasn’t had a lot to smile about in 2017.
However, the Spanish racing driver has been in his “happy place” turning fast times at Indianapolis, says Exec. Director of McLaren and Chairman of Motorsport Network Zak Brown, and knows he has a chance to win on Sunday.
Brown has been with Alonso ever since they left Barcelona following the Spanish GP two weeks ago. Back then, Brown and Alonso arrived at Indianapolis Motor Speedway knowing that there’d be a lot for Alonso to learn. Two weeks later, Alonso is fully set for the Indy 500 knowing that he will be starting from the second row.
“Fernando’s just in a very happy place,” said Brown in a telephone interview with FOX Sports. “He’s thoroughly enjoying being at Indy, the challenge, thinks he’s got a chance to win but so have 10 to 15 other drivers, and I think he relishes the mano-a-mano racing so to speak. Its’ a very competitive field, he wants to challenge himself, he feels he’s driving better than ever and this is an experience that will be positive for his driving moving forward.”
While Brown adds that the Indianapolis experience for himself and Alonso has been “outstanding,” things weren’t so great last Saturday when Sebastien Bourdais flipped during his qualifying attempt.
“Anytime I think a driver sees a big accident like that they’re concerned for their fellow driver,” said Brown. “I think Fernando is well aware of the risks of motor racing and obviously the high-speed nature of Indianapolis so I don’t think it’s his first crash he’s seen at Indy and won’t be the last. He was just concerned with how Sebastien was doing and it looks like he’s doing well given the violent nature of his accident.”
Brown added that Alonso would be experimenting with racecraft, restarts and pit spots on Carb Day during the final practice session for the Indianapolis 500, which is the last time he’ll get to be in the car before race day.
“He’s had a crash-course experience and he’s done an outstanding job and not put a foot wrong,” added Brown. Hopefully, for Alonso, that will continue into Sunday.