IndyStar race insider Jim Ayello brings you the news of the day from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Clark Wade, Clark.Wade@Indystar.com
INDIANAPOLIS – Fernando Alonso suffered the first crash of his IndyCar career during Wednesday’s practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The McLaren Indy No. 66 Chevrolet of the two-time Formula One world champion slammed into the Turn 3 wall, ricocheted down the track into the inside wall and finally back up track into the outside wall before coming to a halt.
The crash was the first among this year’s field of 36 drivers. While his car sustained substantial damage, he was able to walk away under his own power and was quickly checked and released from the infield care center.
“It was just pure understeer on the car,” Alonso said following the crash. “Even if I lifted the throttle on the entry to the corner it was not enough. I lost completely the front aero there (while watching the replay). The wall came too close and too quickly. Unfortunately, it happened today and we will lose a little bit of running time again. I’m sorry for the team. We’ll learn and come back stronger tomorrow.”
Alonso’s McLaren Indy car has been suffering from electrical issues since arriving at IMS. He ran only 50 laps yesterday and put together 46 today with a top speed of 225.433 mph before crashing.
The crash comes 11 days before the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500. According to an NBC report, McLaren plans to repair its primary car and return to the track later in the day.
“I think that’s a huge key is to remain calm, assess the situation properly and come up with a plan going forward. That’s a must if we are to recover,” said Gil de Ferran, sporting director of McLaren Racing. “Our team is new but it has a lot of good, experienced people, including Fernando, who is a true professional. This is not ideal, but we got to keep going.”
While he hasn’t been involved in many wrecks like this during his historic career, Alonso’s 2016 crash at Melbourne might have been worse. His car clipped the back of Esteban Gutierrez’s and slammed into a catch fence before somersaulting through the air resulting in fractured ribs and a collapsed lung.