Fernando Alonso is set to face his biggest test yet in an Indy 500 car as he gets himself ready for the qualifying which takes place this weekend. After a slow start during the practice session, Alonso seems to have caught up with the way everything works at the Indy 500 as he managed a fourth place finish in the fourth practice session.
The two time Formula One champion is on a mission to become only the second driver to claim the Triple Crown and after having already won the Monaco Grand Prix, he now needs to win the Indy 500 and Le Mans. Alonso has every chance to win the Indy 500 this year as former Formula One driver Alex Rossi did it in his debut season last year.
To make things better, Alonso has 2003 Indy 500 winner Gil de Ferran as his coach and he describes the Spaniard as "one of the best racers" he has ever seen. De Ferran believes that Alonso is well prepared as any rookie driver could be to perform well on his debut in the race.
"Watching Fernando, it's clear to me that he's one of the best racers that I've ever seen," Motorsport.com quoted De Ferran as saying.
"He's really good at positioning himself on the first lap, for example, that's why you often see him making a lot of places on the first lap because the first lap is not about taking risks, it's about seeing what's happening in front of you and positioning yourself in the right way to take advantage."
Check out the highlights and interview from Fernando Alonso's latest practice session.
"I don't want to raise or lower expectations. Suffice to say, he's a very good racer and as good as anybody I know. He's in as good a position as anybody I know to meet that challenge as a newcomer."
De Ferran will certainly help Alonso in any way he can as he gets him ready for his debut race at the Indy 500. In his initial few practice sessions, the Spaniard was focusing on race setups and learning to master running in traffic but now he intends to spend more time running in clear air, ahead of qualifying on Saturday and Sunday.
"The car felt quite OK from the very beginning in the morning, but we did improve it during the day, so I'm quite happy. We work still a lot on the race situation, getting out there with guys and running in traffic. I think tomorrow we will concentrate on alone and qualifying, but the priority is the race," Alonso said.
Alonso's coach said that his preparation would "ramp up big time" from the start of today and now practice drivers will be allowed to run qualifying-level turbo boost with an increase from 1.3-bar to 1.4-bar and De Ferran said that the four laps in qualifying will be the most horrible laps for Alonso.