Fernando Alonso: Indy 500 the biggest test in Triple Crown attempt
Spaniard spends weekend off from F1 in America at IndyCar event
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 25/04/17 10:54am
Fernando Alonso has admitted the Indianapolis 500 represents the biggest challenge in his attempt to win the remaining two legs of motorsport's Triple Crown.
Alonso is sitting out next month's F1 showpiece in Monaco to make his debut in the prestigious American oval race in a McLaren-branded Andretti Honda car. Having twice won F1's Monaco GP, Alonso is attempting to add the Indy 500 and the Le Mans 24 Hours to his roll of honour before he retires from racing - a feat only achieved by the late Graham Hill.
Alonso will drive on the Indianapolis oval during a test on May 3 following the Russian GP, with the Indy race taking place on May 28.
"I had this idea always in my mind," Alonso said at a press conference during a visit to Alabama to watch the IndyCar race there on Sunday.
"[Le Mans] I think it's a series that will probably not need a big adaption time because they feel similar driving. Some of the F1 drivers who jump into the Le Mans cars have no difficulties.
"So the biggest task is definitely the Indy 500 for a Formula 1 driver."
Alonso said he started thinking about taking on the challenge of the Triple Crown "four or five years ago" in a bid to become a "more complete driver".
But without past Indy experience, Alonso is aware he faces a steep learning curve.
"With the level of professionalism and the level of commitment in the last two decades, it's difficult to jump from one series to another in the same season," he said.
"So this has not precedent probably in history and the last drivers to attempt something similar had more experience or a couple of months of preparation or more testing on ovals and superspeedways.
"So this is quite a unique thing. I'm aware of the difficulty. All the fans are aware of this."
Either side of his F1 commitments at the Russian GP this week and his home race in Spain on May 14, Alonso has said he will immerse himself into IndyCar to learn all about the racing and car nuances.
"It's quite different," said Alonso. "It's challenging. The traffic, the level of downforce, the feeling with the car, running with a car that's not symmetric on the straights and braking. The traffic is a big thing is what I'm hearing. Let's see if I can learn.
"The restarts, the strategies are a little bit different as well, but I'm with the best team possible for these type of lessons I need to learn."
Alonso will be assisted in his attempt to get up to speed with oval racing by Gil de Ferran, the 2003 Indy 500 winner and former Honda F1 sporting director.
A manic month: Alonso's schedule
April 23: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama - spectator
April 24: McLaren-Honda-Andretti seat fitting
April 28-30: Russian Grand Prix
May 3: First IndyCar test and simulator work
May 12-14: Spanish Grand Prix
May 15-19: Indy 500 practice
May 20: Indy 500 practice and qualifying
May 28: Indy 500 race
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