Formula 1

Fernando Alonso cherishes Indy 500 experience but fails to finish after impressive debut

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Former F1 world champion Fernando Alonso was able to make a mark in his first attempt at the Indy 500 despite retiring in the latter stages of the race on Sunday.

The Spaniard, looking to overturn his dismal fortunes in Formula One, started brilliantly at the iconic oval circuit and led for a total of 27 laps before an engine failure on his Andretti Autosport Honda forced him to end his race on lap 179 of 200.

Running seventh with only 21 laps to go, Alonso slowed down after discovering a trail of smoke for the rear and instantly concluded his race, walking towards the garage amidst cheers from the crowd, who were visibly pleased to witness one of the greatest exponents of racing at the venue.

Alonso explained the turn of events and was quoted by BBC Sport during the aftermath of the race, saying: "I felt the noise and the engine friction so I backed off. It's a shame because I felt we deserved to finish and experience the last lap - who knows where we could have finished."

However, in spite of the unfavourable result, the 35-year-old deemed the opportunity to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as one of the best experiences of his career.

"The whole thing has been a nice experience. The racing was fun and I am glad to been here with the best racers in the business.

"It's early [to decide if he comes back] but I feel competitive and if I come back I will feel like I know what to expect so will use that next time.

"Thanks to IndyCar because this has been one of the best experiences of my career."

Alonso's Instagram post

He later took to social media, posting on Instagram highlighting his lead, saying: "That moment....when you leading the Indy 500 race and keep all chances alive for 2/3 of the race. Thanks to the sport to bring these moments to people."

He skipped the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend to take part in the American-based race and although not finishing on a high, his adventure run in the Indy project was a resounding success both for the driver as well as McLaren F1 team.

Many believed Alonso would find it tough to adapt to conditions and challenges at the 500-mile race, which is a stark contrast to Formula One races, but the Spanish ace proved his critics wrong with a commendable display.

As a 'rookie' in Indy 500, the double world champion demonstrated immaculate skill and innovation all throughout the race.

Honda's failure

McLaren executive director Zak Brown expressed his opinion and asserted it was more of shock rather than surprise to see the Honda engine failure, which has been a common occurrence for the team in Formula One in recent years.

Speaking on the issue, Brown told Autosport: "It's gone up in a puff of smoke, which is something we see all too often.

"Sad for Fernando, everyone at McLaren, everyone at Andretti.

"We've had a very painful couple of years and this was hopefully intended as part of the programme to give us a good result.

"To be let down again as we have been is just shocking, but not surprising."

The 45-year-old gave an insight about the incident said: "Fernando mentioned something about halfway through the race, he thought something had gone off a little bit.

"So that gave us a scare, but his pace seemed to be good.

"Clearly he has got a feel for the car, so I wouldn't be surprised that what he felt at that moment was what caught us out in the end, but we don't know for sure."

Brown further praised the genius of Alonso and added: "He was mightily impressive. He didn't put a wheel wrong all month.

"Everyone was excited, you could feel the buzz. I think everyone wanted him to win. I bet he loved it."

Ex-F1 driver Takuma Sato came through to edge out three-time winner Helio Castroneves to secure his maiden win, becoming the first Japanese racer to achieve the feat.

Alonso will now be returning to McLaren to prepare for the next race in Canada in two weeks time, hoping to continue his Indy 500 form and aiming for beneficial results in the campaign ahead.

Will Alonso drive in Indy 500 again? Let us know in the comments section below!

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