Double world champion Fernando Alonso will start this year’s Indianapolis 500 fifth on the grid after an impressive showing in qualifying for the event.
The Spaniard finished with a four-lap average of 231.300 mph in qualifying Sunday – after making an engine change.
He was the first driver to top 231 on all four laps. It’s the first time he’s competed on an oval.
Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi bumped him off the pole with a run of 231.487. Rossi is the defending race winner and will start third. Scott Dixon took the pole at 232.164.
The McLaren-Honda F1 ace is skipping the Monaco Grand Prix in a bid to win America’s biggest single-seater race next Sunday. And despite having no previous oval racing experience, Alonso reckons he could have gone even faster.
“We had an overboost problem coming out of the last corner, so we hit the engine limiter, and that cost some time,” said Alonso. “The guys did an amazing job to change the engine so quickly.”
Alonso said that he was loving the experience of competing at Indianapolis, adding: “This is the biggest race in the world. I felt that the first time I came here [for practice], but the place was empty.
“Now I can see the fans coming in and the place beginning to fill up it’s even more amazing. I can’t wait for next Sunday.”
The first three rows for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 will roll off as follows:
1) Scott Dixon – 232.164 mph
2) Ed Carpenter – 231.664 mph
3) Alexander Rossi – 231.487 mph
4) Takuma Sato – 231.365 mph
5) Fernando Alonso – 231.300 mph
6) JR Hildebrand – 230.889 mph
7) Tony Kanaan – 230.828 mph
8) Marco Andretti – 230.474 mph
9) Will Power – 230.200 mph
— Honda Racing F1 (@HondaRacingF1) May 21, 2017