A little rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso as he strapped into a blue and green Andretti Autosport IndyCar on Wednesday.
Driving a No. 29 machine that looked quite similar to the car Carlos Munoz drove at this year’s Indianapolis 500, Alonso took the Dallara IR-18 through its paces in multiple track conditions that included wet, intermediate, and dry.
It was the first time Alonso has had an opportunity to test an IndyCar Series machine since the 2017 Indianapolis 500, as well as the first time he has driven the new bodywork implemented before the start of 2018.
“Yeah, it was a good day, a fun day,” Alonso said in a brief Q&A session following the test. “I love to test new cars and to test the INDYCAR on a road course is something special. I’ve been lucky enough to test it in wet conditions, in intermediate conditions and in dry conditions, so overall I had a good feeling on every type of track. The weather was good for us today – a little bit of wind in the afternoon but overall a positive day.”
Recently, Alonso announced his retirement from Formula One with an emotional tribute video to his career posted on Twitter. Looking for new challenges and adventures, Alonso’s interest in IndyCar has been noted for the past year and a half.
The test at Barber Motorsports Park offered a more complete picture of IndyCar racing for Alonso as it was his first opportunity to drive an American open-wheel machine on a road course.
“It was something that I was looking for last year already,” Alonso continued. “I had some options to test the car on a road course after the Indy 500. We didn’t find the time but this year it’s definitely happened now and I’m happy for this.
“I love being behind a steering wheel, and definitely a new car, a new experience, learning a lot of things from the team, the engineers, everyone, so a happy day.”
Despite his prestigious road course pedigree, Alonso made note of how much he enjoys racing the Indy-style cars on both the twisties as well as ovals.
“Probably my instinct will tell me (I prefer) road course, because it’s what I’ve been used to doing all my life, but the Indy 500 was an amazing experience, so 50/50,” the Spainiard said. “I think I love the way the car feels on a road course, but I love the way you compete on ovals, timing the tows, traffic and all the overtaking maneuvers I think are a little bit easy on the ovals, so in terms of track action I loved the Indy 500.”
As the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series championship comes to a close next weekend at Sonoma Raceway, fans and pundits alike are already looking forward to 2019 with new tracks and new entries on the horizon – which could still include Alonso.
Currently, the possibilities seem endless. “I could do the full series, I could do one race or I could do nothing. I will study all three possibilities,” Alonso told ESPN.com.
Nonetheless, two-thirds of those options put Alonso in an IndyCar sometime soon, and those are pretty good odds for all of us.
Images courtesy of Chris Owens/INDYCAR.