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Indy heartbreak for Alonso

NEWS STORY
29/05/2017

He came, he saw, he so very nearly conquered... sadly however, it was not to be.

However, Fernando Alonso will return to F1 from IndyCar with his head held high, the Spaniard so very nearly pulling off an epic victory.

Unfortunately however, despite leading the race for 27 of its 200 laps and almost constantly running in the top three or four, his eventual retirement had a familiar ring about it, issues with his Honda engine.

"Obviously I'm disappointed not to finish the race because obviously every race you compete, you want to be at the chequered flag," he said. "Today was not possible.

"Anyway, was a great experience, the last two weeks. I came here basically to prove myself, to challenge myself. I know that I can be as quick as anyone in an F1 car. I didn't know if I can be as quick as anyone in an IndyCar.

"It was nice to have this competitive feeling, even leading the Indy 500, you know. One lap you put on the lead there, it was already a nice feeling. I was passing, watching the tower, saw the 29 on top of it. I was thinking at that moment if Zak or someone from the team was taking a picture, because I want that picture at home.

"Thanks to IndyCar, amazing experience," he continued. "Thanks to Indianapolis. Thanks to the fans. I felt at home. I'm not American, but I felt really proud to race here."

He concluded by congratulating race winner Takuma Sato, the first Japanese to win the iconic event and a name familiar to F1 fans following his exploits with BAR Honda and Super Aguri.

"Congratulations to Sato San, to Andretti. We have been sharing the last two weeks all the meetings in the morning, the meetings in the afternoon.

"Takuma was a lot of help, coming from F1. The last two laps I was on my knees really pushing Sato. I’m extremely happy for the final result."

Sato edged three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves to the finish line by 0.2011, passing him for the lead on Lap 195 - the last of 35 lead changes.

Sato's only previous Indy car victory was in 2013 with AJ Foyt Racing on the streets of Long Beach. He joined Andretti Autosport this season, and his first oval win today is the fifth for Andretti Autosport in the Indianapolis 500 - including three in the last four years.

"It's such a privilege to win here," said Sato, who crashed while battling eventual winner Dario Franchitti for the lead on the final lap of the 2012 Indy 500. "So whether it was the first attempt or eighth attempt or you had a drama in the past, it doesn't really matter. Winning today, it's just superb.

"Yes, I do feel after 2012 I really needed to correct something I left over. Today, I was so happy that I made it and won in a good move."
Sato is the 71st driver to win an Indianapolis 500 in its 101 runnings. The best previous finish by a Japanese driver was fifth by Tora Takagi in 2003.

Castroneves overcame a black-flag penalty for jumping a restart and dodged mayhem in two race incidents to finish second at Indy for the third time - making him one of seven drivers with three Indianapolis 500 runner-up finishes. It is the 41st second-place finish of the Brazilian's 20-year Indy car career, which ranks second all time.

Despite going a lap down early with handling issues, Chip Ganassi Racing's Max Chilton, another former F1 driver, led the most laps (50) before finishing fourth. It was the best showing of the 26-year-old's two-year Verizon IndyCar Series career.

A total of 15 drivers led the event, breaking the record of 14 set in 2013. The race was slowed by 11 cautions periods for a total of 50 laps. A red flag stopped action for 19 minutes to repair the barrier and catch fencing in the short chute between Turns 1 and 2. It was the result of a Lap 53 collision between Jay Howard and pole sitter Scott Dixon that vaulted Dixon's car into the safety materials on the inside of the track. Neither driver was injured.

Buddy Lazier was involved in a single-car incident on Lap 122. The 1996 Indy 500 winner spun and contacted the Turn 2 barrier in the No. 44 Lazier Racing-StalkIt-Tivoli Lodge Chevrolet. Complaining of chest discomfort, Lazier was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital, where he was treated and released.

The final caution flag waved on Lap 184 when the cars of James Davison and Oriol Servia touched in Turn 2, sparking a five-car incident that also collected James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden and Will Power. None of the drivers was injured.

Sato becomes the sixth different winner in as many races this season and jumps to third place in the standings. Castroneves leads with 245 points while reigning series champion Simon Pagenaud, Sato and Dixon each has 234. Alexander Rossi is fifth in points with 190 after finishing seventh today.

Check out our Fernando's Indy 500 gallery, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by jcr, 29/05/2017 22:10

"There were xxx number of these engines on the grid, why did mine blow, some one is looking down on me,
OH,OH, SORRY,That was some other F! driver,
Fernando displayed Fi in a brilliant light
A true sportsman.
Salud. Fernando."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Yeyox02, 29/05/2017 20:39

"What else Alonso could expect from Honda whose engines burst like popcorn
"

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3. Posted by edllorca, 29/05/2017 15:11

"The Honda curse follows Fonzy to Indy. At least he was a contender which makes the blow up ever more bitter. Congrats to Sato though."

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4. Posted by RDFox, 29/05/2017 14:42

"I think it's now safe to say that, whatever series Fernando runs in next year, it will be in a car NOT powered by Honda..."

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5. Posted by LukeP, 29/05/2017 12:09

"Despite the sad end for Alonso I really enjoyed this race - far more exciting than the Monaco GP the same day. Whilst I don't doubt it requires extreme skill to even finish the 78 lap Monaco GP, the Indy 500 was compelling to watch from the start to the end. I'll be making the effort in years to come!"

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6. Posted by GrahamG, 29/05/2017 10:18

"Honda and BA - object lessons in how to destroy the brand"

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