Fernando Alonso made a shock appearance at the 101st running of the 2017 Indianapolis 500 driving McLaren’s single-entry car run by the Andretti Autosport team, which is headed by Michael Andretti, who raced in F1 for the Woking-based team in 1993.
The car was a standard IndyCar DW12 chassis powered by a Honda 2.2-litre twin-turbo V6 engine, limited by regulations to 12,000rpm. It was Alonso’s first appearance at IndyCar’s headline event and also the first time he will race on a high-speed oval course.
Having missed Sunday’s race in Monaco to compete at the Brickyard, Alonso belied his lack of oval racing experience by running at the front throughout and leading on several occasions. But with 21 laps to go, as his was vying for sixth place in the leading pack, smoke began to pour from the rear of his McLaren-entered car.
“It’s a shame – we deserved at least to finish the race,” said Alonso, who was given a standing ovation by the 300,000 spectators in attendance when he clambered out of his bright orange car.
“Who knows what position we could have been?
“The whole day has been a nice experience from the presentation to the racing. The performance was good, we were up there and leading at the red flag.
“It was a nice surprise to come here with the big guys and be competitive.”
For the second year in a row the 500-mile race was won by a former F1 driver, with Takuma Sato – a veteran of 90 Grands Prix with one podium finish to his name – taking the spoils for the same Andretti squad that had also run Alonso’s car.