Andretti backs Alonso for Indy 500 glory

Oleh Jack Davies 25 Mei 2017 3
Andretti backs Alonso for Indy 500 glory

Fernando Alonso has every chance of victory on his Indy 500 debut, according to former winner and Formula One champion Mario Andretti.

Andretti won the famous race in 1969, before going on to claim the F1 drivers' crown with Lotus nine years later.

Alonso has been released from Monaco Grand Prix duty by McLaren as he bids to achieve the second leg of motorsport's triple crown, which consists of Monaco, the Indy 500 and Le Mans, and qualified fifth on the grid on Sunday.

The Spaniard is driving for the Andretti Autosport team - run by Mario's son Michael - who won the race with rookie Alexander Rossi in 2016.

"Do I think Fernando can win the race? He could, of course," Mario Andretti told Omnisport. "Let's look back at the stats. This race - sometimes, many times - has been won on speed alone and it has been won on strategy.

"Let's look at just last year with Rossi. It was his first 500 and I think only his second oval race and yet with my son Michael's team he was quick, he was where he needed to be at the time, but it was more strategy that got him the win rather than outright speed.

"They decided to leave him out there and there was a chance that he would be running out of fuel. He was running out of fuel just before the start-finish line but he crossed the finish line first.

"So you can see there are many situations where, yes, I think anyone starting this race has the definite chance of potentially winning it because 500 miles is a long way and many, many things can happen. Most of the time things don't happen the way you prepare.

"You have to keep an open mind and have the mindset as a driver. Like I've seen Fernando say, 'I'm not just coming here to drive, I'm trying to win', and realistically he could win it."

Regardless of whether Alonso can pull off the victory, Andretti says simply having the two-time F1 champion involved is a positive for the race and for the driver.

"I think to have Fernando Alonso here is huge," he added. "It's a good thing. 

"It's certainly not the first Formula One driver to compete at the Indianapolis 500 but it's been a while since we had a Formula One champion here, so he's definitely welcome with open arms and I'm happy that he is with my son's team.

"We all know that McLaren has not offered him the best opportunity to be competitive in Formula One, as you can see.

"McLaren as a team is also behind Fernando doing this, just to give him some hope to actually benefit from Honda power on the other side of the ocean in another series.

"He would not give up Monaco if he was somewhere in the points at this juncture in the season.

"I think it's a perfect opportunity for Fernando to come over."

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Jack Davies