Tuesday was the opening day for a practice session for 103rd Indianapolis 55. Fernando Alonso was forced to take it slow to pass his Indianapolis 500 “Refresher Test” before he was allowed to turn it loose on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. He passed the final phase laps over 215 mph, but he never got the chance to turn it loose later in the day.
Alonso was prepared to develop a baseline set up on his car on Tuesday; unfortunately, his car, McLaren Chevrolet, got an electronic issue. As a result, his best lap was 224.162 miles per hour, completing as the 32nd fastest out of 39 car/driver combinations.
Alonso was frustrated at the lack of track time on a beautiful day in Indianapolis. He left the track without talking to the officials thought it was part of the teams plan to lay low on opening day.
McLaren team principal, Gil de Ferran, reported in an interview with Sports.com that they planned to run more than they did. They were frustrated that they lost the afternoon session, but they were trying their best to understand what the problem was. He also added that they had capable guys and he had hopes that they would get on top of the matter.
Back in 2017 “Alonso mania” got up to speed in a hurry, qualified fifth on the grid and led 27 laps in the race before his Honda engine blew up on lap 180. McLaren partnered with Honda team Andretti Autosport, and Alonso was provided with one of their top cars. Things seem to have changed this year.
There are 36 car/driver combinations entered in the race. The extra three came when drivers shook down the race setup for their teammates.
Wednesday is yet another day for the teams at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and it will entail seven hours of practice from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown reported that a full-time IndyCar Series team in 2020 would depend on how well the operation does at Indianapolis in May.
Ferran said that his primary focus is not about the full-time operation but rather doing the best in the Indianapolis 500. He also said that there is time for Alonso to overcome the disappointment he encountered on Tuesday.
Teams will start to trim for “qualifying setup” Friday because they are given an extra boost. Speed set up can be handled in the Fast Friday and Saturday morning practice sessions.
From Saturday, May 18, NBC, NBC Sports Gold’s, NBCSN INDYCAR Pass will combine to provide full coverage of Indy 500 exclusively for INDYCAR Pass subscribers from 11 a.m-5 p.m. ET before shifting to NBCSN AT 5 p.m. ET. The final qualifying session airs Sunday, May 19 from 12-3 p.m. ET on NBC.
The coverage of 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 begins on Sunday, May 26, with eight hours of programming; a pre-race show on NBCSN at 9 a.m. ET; race coverage at 11 a.m. ET on NBC; and a post-race show at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN.