A tough start to Fernando Alonso’s second attempt at the Indianapolis 500 took a turn for the worse early Wednesday afternoon.
The McLaren Racing driver hit the outside wall in Turn 3 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and then spun through the infield grass into a heavy rear-end impact with the inside wall. The No. 66 Dallara-Chevrolet slowly skidded back up the track and made light left-front contact with the SAFER barrier (video of the crash is available here or by watching above).
Alonso walked away from the crash and talked with Dillon Welch on the NBC Sports Gold broadcast after being treated and released from the track’s care center.
“Pure understeer on the car, I lifted the throttle, and it was not enough,” Alonso told Welch. “I lost it completely. The wall came too close and too quickly.
“Unfortunately, it happened today. We will lose a little bit of running time again. I’m sorry for the team, but we’ll learn and hopefully come back this time tomorrow.”
Gil de Ferran, the sporting director for McLaren, told Welch in a separate interview that it was too early to decide whether the team would go to a backup car or fix its primary.
“We’ll just huddle around the car and assess the situation in the coming hours,” de Ferran said. “It looked like we’ve been suffering from understeer throughout the morning, and it understeered into the wall, and that was it.”
The two-time Formula One champion already had suffered through a difficult opening day Tuesday when his car was plagued by electrical problems and ranked 32nd on the speed chart.
Alonso told reporters that his car handled “much better” Wednesday before the crash.
“Definitely we were moving in the right direction,” he said. “Small steps that we learned today that hopefully we can bring for next time. … These things happen in motorsport. Better today than on (May 26 race day). Let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”
Alonso, who was part of the team that won the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona in January, finished 24th as a rookie in the 2017 Indy 500, leading 27 laps before suffering an engine failure.