McLaren Honda Andretti driver Alonso has been named as Rookie of the Year for the 2017 edition of the Indianapolis 500. Despite having been consigned to a 24th-place finish when engine failure stopped him on lap 180 of 200, the Spaniard beat the race’s highest-finishing rookie Ed Jones to the honours.
Alonso’s Indy 500 speech in full
“I thought I should write some notes as this is probably one or two in a life time speech as I wanted to get it right!” Alonso said.
“It has been an incredible, intense few weeks since we decided we will take part in the Indy 500 and I have enjoyed every second of it.
“Maybe not that much when my car stopped – at least it was clear on which side I had to park the car as my steering has been turning left for the last three weeks, so it was clear at least on that way.
“I have always believed that a complete driver should prove himself in a different series of motor sport and this is one of the reasons why I came here.
“We entered this race also with the aim of linking two different worlds of motor sport and I believe we have achieved this.
“In spite of Tony Kanaan’s several warnings, I’m glad I can say I have made it nearly unscratched through the whole month of May, it’s the first time I do so many activities off track, so many photos, so many autographs, we even flew to another city in the middle of the event, for you guys this is normal, but trust me it’s not normal!
“Then, you want to focus and concentrate on the race so you come to the grid and hardly can find your car, so finally you jump in the car and you think that you are finally alone and concentrated but you have two spotters who tell you how to drive inside, outside.
“It has been a privilege and an honour to take part in this iconic race and I want to thank everyone who has made this possible.
“Thanks to McLaren-Honda and Andretti who gave me this great chance, Michael thanks for welcoming me so warmly, everyone at Andretti Autosport has made me feel at home and I can say I have found a new family here, what a team.
“Thanks to Zak Brown and everyone at McLaren and Honda for the great effort and energy you have put into this project. Thanks to all my team-mates, Ryan, Marco, Alex, Jack and Taku, who have looked after me and given me all sorts of tips.
“Taku of course, congratulations for winning this one but the next time, I want your engine!
“And you are my favourite Japanese driver in IndyCar!
“Thank you all the drivers, I’m so glad I have found some great people and friends on this side of the Atlantic.
“You guys are so talented, I watched so many, many videos on Youtube before coming here and racing these two weeks together I learned so much from each one of you, that has made me a better driver today, not only in oval racing, so thank you guys.
“Thanks to Gil de Ferran, ‘obrigado’ my friend, my brilliant coach, and Johnny Rutherford, my girlfriend Linda, my physio Fabrizio and to my best friend Alberto who have shared with me this exciting journey.
“Silvia, my press officer, who has worked with me the last three years at McLaren, I mean for her this was the last three weeks very intense, but she enjoyed it so much, I think for a press officer this event is like Disneyland for any kid, so I’m happy she enjoyed it.
“It has been an amazing experience that I will take with my forever, I cannot wait to have my papaya orange car in my museum in Spain, finally I would like to wish a speedy recovery to Sebastien Bourdais, we have missed you on track man, get well soon also to Scott, I saw you with some things on your hands, was an incredible flight.
“Thanks everyone, thanks Indianapolis, thanks IndyCar.”
Speech Source: Express.co.uk