Fernando Alonso on 'world's craziest race' after Indy 500 finish
"Those 200 laps were so intense that you enjoy every second behind the wheel"
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 24/08/20 7:30pm
Fernando Alonso said it was a privilege to simply take part in the world's "craziest race" as he completed the Indy 500 for the first time, albeit in a lapped 21st place.
The Spaniard's target of completing motorsport's Triple Crown with victory at the Brickyard remains unfulfilled but his third visit there at least yielded a first finish, after retiring in 2017 and then failing to qualify last year.
Alonso had made early progress in his McLaren from 26th on the grid but clutch problems intervened just after half distance in the 200-lap oval race.
Writing on his Instagram Story as he left the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday night, Alonso said: "This is one of the biggest experiences for a driver. The adrenaline, the danger, the history, speed.
"We wanted to be fighting for the win, but we did not have the pace and I still do not have the experience needed.
"We probably could fight for top 10 but we did not have the luck either (or the clutch…) but those 200 laps were so intense that you enjoy every second behind the wheel.
"Being one of the cars out there already has to be a privilege, doing what we love to do."
The race was won by Takuma Sato at an average speed around the 2.5-mile oval of 157.8mph, with the 500 miles featuring seven yellow-flag periods for crashes and incidents.
Alonso declared: "This is the craziest race of the world."
The 39-year-old also explained how he fell a lap down on the leaders and lost a chance at the top 10.
"We finished the race without the clutch, so from that point on every pit stop we had to push the car, engage the gear and go," he said. "That cost us a lap and unfortunately, we kept that lap down until the end and we could not achieve anything more.
"I'm happy to finish the race, cross the line and have one 500 miles in the pocket, that's the positive thing. The negative is that we were out of contention very quickly with the clutch problem."
F1 return next on Alonso's radar
Since signing up for his first Indy 500 adventure in 2017, when he missed the Monaco GP amid McLaren's difficult spell with Honda, Alonso has diversified his motorsport activities - particularly since stepping away from F1 completely two years ago.
He enjoyed success in the World Endurance Championship, winning the Le Mans 24 Hours twice and the WEC title outright, and the Daytona 24 Hours sportscar race. Alonso then turned to off-road rally-raid in the Dakar Rally at the start of this year.
However, with no more events scheduled after Indianapolis, it appears likely that the next race the 39-year-old will complete in will be the first Grand Prix of his F1 return with Renault in 2021.
Alonso last month signed a two-year deal to make a comeback with the team he won his two world titles with and a return for a fourth attempt at Indy has already been ruled out during his stay at Enstone.
Cyril Abiteboul, Renault's F1 team principal, said: "I can be very clear that once he is with us that is for good and for a while, so no distraction."