Franchitti 'amazed' by Alonso's performance in first IndyCar test

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Franchitti impressed by Alonso's performance during his first outing in an Indy car last week.
Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso
© Media Pictures

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti was "amazed" by Fernando Alonso's performance in his first Indy car test last week.

Alonso stunned the motorsport world by announcing last month that he would be skipping the Formula 1 race in Monaco this year to enter the Indy 500 with McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport.

The two-time F1 world champion got his first taste of both an Indy car and oval running on May 3 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, passing the Rookie Orientation Programme with flying colours.

While Franchitti believes oval racing will feel unnatural to Alonso given he has spent his entire career racing on traditional road and street tracks, the Scot was impressed by the Spaniard's first outing.

"To drive an oval is a very unusual thing for a road course driver, someone that's grown up racing on road and street courses, and not on ovals," Franchitti said.

"And Indianapolis is even more so a law unto itself. The good news is there's a lot of days of practice. If it rains, that could change things a little bit. Every lap Fernando is going to get is going to be helpful.

"I was amazed, I thought he got up to speed incredibly quickly. I sat and watched the whole rookie test and everything. I thought he got up to speed well and did a great job.

"On the plus points, he's with a great team, great teammates as well, they're going to help him which I think he'll find quite unusual as the teammates are there to help. You want to beat your teammates, but you all work together to beat the opposition because the cars are essentially the same and it's how the teams figures out the small differences that can make the difference between success and failure."

Speaking from his own experiences of running in the '500, Franchitti - winner of the race in 2007, 2010 and 2012 - said that it will be the race itself that is the biggest challenge for Alonso to overcome.

"The toughest thing I found at the speedway at Indianapolis was how to race," Franchitti said. "To run on your own was not that difficult. It's when you get into the pack and how to position your car. Some of that comes from experience.

"When the person in front moves his car in a certain position, where you do position your car. Then you've got guys beside you and all those sort of things, and how you time your passes, keep momentum up. All those things are going on.

"The weather's going to change a lot. When the weather changes at the speedway, when you look at it, it's four left hand corners, you think what's the big deal. The weather changes, the temperature changes, the humidity changes, the wind direction changes, and it completely changes the shape of the track and how the track feels.

"He's got all of that going on, and then there's the mental aspect of being in the car for all those days, and every time you leave the pits you're circulating at above 225 mph, and there's absolutely no margin for error.

"It's the tightest of tightropes, and you cannot step over, because you step over, that lovely SAFER barrier is there waiting."

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