Fernando Alonso: McLaren driver fourth fastest in Indy 500 practice

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso is aiming to win motorsport's 'triple crown'

Fernando Alonso was fourth fastest in practice for the Indianapolis 500 as strong winds limited the number of laps done by drivers.

Alonso's best lap of 219.533mph was well down on the fastest of 222.894mph set by Ed Carpenter, but only 14 drivers of the 33-car field posted representative times.

"It was tricky, definitely," the two-time Formula 1 champion said.

"The conditions didn't help, but for me any condition is still a good lesson."

Strong winds can be a major hazard on an exposed superspeedway track, where average lap speeds are so high, as they significantly affect the car's stability in corners.

Alonso said: "Everything went according to plan. The team used those runs also to test something in the background on engine tuning, so it was a productive day."

The 35-year-old Spaniard is competing at Indy - and on an 'oval' track for the first time in his career - at the expense of the Monaco Grand Prix, as he bids to secure the next leg of the so-called 'triple crown'.

Only Graham Hill has so far managed to win Monaco, Indy and the Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar race.

'I'm new, so they all need the autograph'

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'Everything went fine' - Alonso happy with Indy 500 practice

His presence in the race is a major draw, in both the US and around the world, and Alonso joked that the attention on him was a bonus for the other drivers, with fans allowed close to the pits at Indianapolis.

"There is a lot of support here from the fans," he said. "They get very close to us here in the pit lane, in the garage.

"It seems that everywhere I go they follow me. I think some of the other drivers are taking advantage of that. They wait until I go, then they go without trouble.

"It's the way it is. I'm new here so they all need the autograph for the first time. I hope tomorrow they don't need it for the second time."

Alonso has to use the five days of practice this week to get into the best possible shape for qualifying on Saturday and Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which comprises just four left-hand turns but is an extreme challenge for drivers.

Alonso, who is driving a car branded for his McLaren F1 team, powered by Honda, which provides his engine in F1 and run by the Andretti Autosport team, said: "From the outside, compared to F1 circuits, this looks - it is - more simple. Only four corners.

"But the spread in terms of timed lap from first to last is just small details on the set-up of the car. Maybe you change a spring and you pick up 3-4mph and that makes three or four places.

"From the outside it seems too simple but what we are testing is just the fine-tuning on the set-up to gain milliseconds here and there."

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