INDYCAR

Alonso expects traffic to be biggest challenge in maiden Indy 500

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Fernando Alonso believes that negotiating traffic will be the biggest challenge he faces when he makes his debut at the Indianapolis 500 later this month with McLaren Honda Andretti.

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso stunned the motorsport world by announcing his entry to the ‘500 last month, opting to skip the Monaco Grand Prix on May 28.

The Spaniard enjoyed his first test in an Indy car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday, completing the Rookie Orientation Program and setting an impressive pace.

Alonso will get his first true taste of pack racing on the day of the race itself, and expects his toughest task to be dipping through traffic when lapping cars.

“It’s going to be probably the biggest challenge, running on traffic. I think there are a couple of things that I’m definitely not up to speed,” Alonso said.

“One is the traffic thing, I think we need to go step by step. Today was just running alone and try to feel the car, the circuit and all the things that are involved with this technique.

“Second will be setting up the car. The guys, they make constant changes to the car. One on the steering wheel while running, and those on the pit lane, those tiny changes, tuning the car perfectly on the week for the qualifying and then doing the same on the race, and sometimes also on the pit stops, getting up to speed until the last part of the race.

“So on that aspect, I am not up to speed. I am not able at the moment to feel the car or the small changes that we can make to the car, because I’m not driving the car. The car is driving myself around at the moment.

“So things that, you know, we need to hopefully learn in the first days of free practice and, you know, as I said many times, I’m with the best team possible for that.

“Even for the traffic thing, we are six cars. So we will make sure that I will arrive ready on Sunday 28th with a lot of laps behind cars.”

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.