Fernando Alonso’s quest for motorsport’s triple crown never truly sparked into life at the 2020 Indianapolis 500, but he expressed satisfaction at reaching the finish for the first time in his career.
Alonso linked up with Arrow McLaren SP for his third crack at the event, having retired while running competitively in 2017, prior to failing to qualify in 2019.
Alonso lined up only 26th on the 33-car grid, with preparations also compromised by a practice crash, but made gains across the opening half of the 200-lap encounter.
However a clutch problem skewered his hopes of making a prolonged recovery and he regressed through the field, eventually classifying a lapped 21st.
“It was a very eventful race for us,” he said. “We didn’t have one lap of kindness, let’s say.
“We were struggling from the very beginning with the balance of the car with a lot of oversteer.
“We kept changing that balance in the pit stops, reducing the front flap, doing tyre adjustments, and then we started to be happy with the car.
“We were up to P15 around Lap 110, which is where we wanted to be. We spent half the race going from P26 to P15 and then we had a clutch problem on the car that we didn’t know how to solve.
“We finished the race without the clutch, so from that point on every pit stop we had to push the car, engage the gear and go.
“That cost us a lap and unfortunately, we kept that lap down until the end and we could not achieve anything more.”
It marked Alonso’s first full distance in IndyCar but the wait for the triple crown will go on, with future employer Renault already emphasising he will not be allowed to partake in the 2021 and 2022 events.
“I’m happy to finish the race, cross the line and have one 500 miles in the pocket, that’s the positive thing,” he said.
“The negative is that we were out of contention very quickly with the clutch problem. Anyway, I think the Arrow McLaren SP team was fantastic during the race.
“We tried to race, but luck was not with us today, but I’m proud of the effort from everyone in the team.”
Alonso’s Arrow McLaren SP team-mates Patricio O’Ward and Oliver Askew had mixed outcomes to their respective races.
O’Ward was top rookie in sixth position but brief race leader Askew suffered a heavy crash 91 laps into proceedings.