Fernando Alonso expects bigger Indy 500 challenge without Andretti Autosport
McLaren Racing's Fernando Alonso is expecting a bigger challenge in his second attempt at the Indianapolis 500 now he longer has help from Andretti Autosport.
The Spaniards first attempt at the prestigious race in 2017 was in a McLaren-badged car built by the Andretti squad, but now the British team has entered their own entry for the first time since 1979.
Alonso cited the differences when it comes to the operational and technical side in terms of strategy calls and getting comfortable inside the car, even to the smallest details such as grips on the steering wheel.
"I think it's a bit of a challenge, no doubt," said Alonso. "I think we have to do everything by ourselves, not only in terms of setup-wise on the technical side.
"It's also on the operational side, also on the strategy, tyre management, the comfort side in terms of precision, steering wheel grip, basic things that they were ready with Andretti. You save a lot of time. Yeah, basically it's a bigger challenge.
"But it could be a bigger reward, as well. I think some of the philosophy or directions that McLaren may go in the next month, maybe now is a little bit different.
"With Andretti, we just follow what we knew what was working. In a way, it was easier. But maybe now we can discover new things. That's our hopes."
Alonso's return to the Brickyard in Wednesday's open test did not start smoothly when an electrical issue stopped his #66 McLaren-Chevrolet in the warm-up lane in Turn 2.
After being towed back to the pits, McLaren eventually got the car running again but it still meant Alonso was not able to complete his refresher program and finished slowest of the runners in the session in ninth with a 218.690mph.
He will be required to fulfill the program when practice gets underway on May 14.
"It was frustrating for everyone, I guess," he added. "For us, obviously, yeah, we lost a little bit of time at the beginning. This was more or less expected because, as I said, it was a brand-new chassis, brand new car.
"Everything fit in the last week. We expect to run slowly, step by step, short runs at the beginning. It's what we did.
"So, yeah, if we could probably have the laps at midday, maybe you discover these issues, then you have hours to work in the car, be ready for the afternoon. The weather delays everything. You do the lap at 5:30 p.m., and there is no room to get back on track on time."