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Fernando Alonso’s Indy500 Q2 Run + Interview

Engine boost issue cost Fernando Alonso shot at Indy 500 pole


Nate Saunders

Nate Saunders F1 Assistant Editor

Fernando Alonso believes he could have been closer to pole position without an engine boost problem during qualifying for his first Indy 500. 

Alonso qualified an impressive fifth position for his rookie appearance at the iconic oval race, which takes place on May 28, with an average time of 231.300mph. The Spaniard very nearly missed the top-nine shootout altogether when Honda were forced into a last-minute engine change ahead of the final qualifying session.

Though the change was completed in time, Alonso says a further engine problem during his four-lap run in the ‘Fast 9’ segment of qualifying prevented him from challenging Scott Dixon’s eventual pole-winning average speed of 232.164mph.

“The car was on the limit but I don’t know if it was possible to be on pole position but definitely very close,”

Alonso said.

“I had an overboost problem on lap two out of the last corner and it was like hitting the brakes. I went one gear down and started to pick up speed again. I crossed the line and it was 230.7 mph or something like that when I thought it was 225 mph or something.”I nearly came into the pit lane because I thought, ‘This qualifying run is over with this problem.’ I was still running and still putting the laps together and I was positively surprised with the total time. So I think today the car performed better than yesterday. Already in practice it felt very, very competitive, so we were probably very close to pole position today.”

Speaking of the engine change, Alonso poked fun at his recent experiences with Honda in F1, joking: “I’m used to it. I’m used to changing engines before qualifying and the race.”

The two-time world champion said he wanted to turn in a strong performance to thank his McLaren-Andretti Autosport team for the quick fix.

“[It was] amazing — my crew, but not only them, the whole team, as soon as we decided to change the engine, I saw about 20 people around the car changing parts. That was a truly good thing to experience, how the teamwork plays here and I was extremely proud and happy with them. When we got to qualifying I wanted to put a good run for them because it’s a busy day for them.”

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