Formula 1

Fernando Alonso impresses in Indy 500 qualifying as he takes fifth place on the grid

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After a turbulent last few seasons with McLaren, the luck of former world champion Fernando Alonso is set to overturn with the Spanish ace impressing in his first venture in an IndyCar at the Indy 500.

The F1 star took part in the 'fast nine' to determine his position on the grid for the race scheduled on May 28.

Driving for Andretti Autosport in a McLaren branded car, Alonso was behind the wheels for the first time in the Indianapolis-based circuit for qualifying.

He set an average of 231.300mph on his four-lap qualifying run, and also took provisional pole before New Zealander Scott Dixon surpassed him to take pole at 232.164mph.

At the end of the session, Alonso finished at fifth and will be lining up from the middle of the second row in the race next Sunday.

Video: Alonso's Indy500 qualifying run

For a first timer, experts believe it to be a commendable performance although qualifying positions are not of significant importance to determine the race winner, unlike other forms of motorsport racing.

The 35-year-old was visibly pleased with his showing but informed the team of a slight delay caused by an engine issue.

BBC Sport quoted the double world champion saying: "I think the car was better than yesterday. We had an over-boost problem (with the turbocharger) in the final corner, so the engine was like hitting the brakes and I lost a bit."

He is of the opinion that the problem cost him around 0.3-0.4mph on his average and had it not occurred the Spaniard would have ended the session either second or third.

Alonso took to social media which somewhat seems like a sly dig at McLaren, stating on Instagram: "With everything that has happened today being among the top five is a dream.

"Fifteen days ago I would never have thought about fighting for the pole. Thanks to the whole team. Now another week of learning and race next weekend."

The engine on his car had to be changed between final practice earlier in the day and qualifying which notably improved his timings.

Two former Formula One drivers were also competing for the top honours as Alexander Rossi, who had a brief stint with Caterham and Marussia, finished third while Japan's Takuma Sato, formerly of Jordan, BAR and Super Aguri teams, took fourth.

American racer Ed Carpenter ended second, thereby taking the middle between Dixon and Rossi at the front row.

Rossi won the Indy 500 from 11th last year, which further reiterates the insignificance of qualifying to deduce the winners of the 500-mile race.

The cars will undergo changes in setup between qualifying and race to ensure consistent performance during a heavy traffic race and 'caution periods' in which drivers are restricted to reduced speeds behind faster-paced cars will be Alonso's first test during the end of the month race.

The Spanish ace will miss next weekend's Monaco GP to race at the speedway as part of his pursuit to win the 'triple crown' of Monaco, having won twice, Indy and the Le Mans 24 Hours race.

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