Chasing success

Fernando Alonso admitted that he needs to ‘learn quickly’ in his preparation for his first ever appearance at the Indianapolis 500 later this month.

The 2 time Formula 1 world champion is skipping this year's Monaco Grand Prix in order to take part in the event on 28th May.

"There are many things that I don't know now and I need to learn quickly." Alonso told the BBC.

He went on to say that he will do his best in qualifying but is concentrating the majority of his efforts on race preparation.

Mclaren have given him special dispensation to chase ‘success’ in the Indy 500 with the team struggling once again this season.

Alonso has already impressed as he completed his rookie test and is feeling increasingly confident on the 2.5-mile oval circuit.

He recorded a 223.025mph average speed during his first practice despite suspension issues that meant he could not complete the full programme.

His Andretti Autosport teammate, Marco Andretti, is the man to chase so far having topped the first of 5 practise sessions with a 226.338mph speed average ahead of qualifying this weekend.

The 35-year-old Spaniard is hailed as one of the world’s most skilled racing drivers but it will be a tough test in his ability when he is challenged by experienced Indy 500 competitors.

What is the Indianapolis 500?

The Indy 500 is a 200 laps race around a 2.5-mile ‘superspeedway’ track.

Made up of 4 left-hand turns that all consist of a 9-degree angled bank, the challenge comes in dealing with subtleties at speeds topping 230mph.

The cars are more elementary than Formula 1 using a standard chassis and either Honda or Chevrolet engines.

Teams are then allowed to develop their own aerodynamics and spend time with the driver to finesse two complex car setups for qualifying and race conditions.

Alonso has never experienced oval racing in his career; running with traffic at 230mph and balancing his car setup will be new challenges.

There is plenty to learn before and during the race in order to feel comfortable overtaking and maintaining speed during manoeuvres.

He will be racing for the Andretti team although the car will include a Mclaren trim.

The Indy 500 triumph has been fixed in his mind ever since he expressed the desire to win the ‘triple crown’ that also includes the Monaco Grand Prix and 24 hours of Le Mans.

Jenson Button who is contracted as a reserve driver for Mclaren will return from retirement to take the spare seat at the Monaco Grand Prix on 28th May.