I don’t think there’s anything more satisfying than watching one of the world’s greatest drivers prove his worth by hopping into a completely new car and doing well in it right away. Two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso’s first IndyCar test went fantastically this morning—and thank goodness for that.
Finally, Alonso gets to drive an orange car that works. With foul weather expected later in the day, cold temperatures and gusty wind, the Andretti Autosport team made short work of getting him up to speed in tricky conditions.
Alonso did a happy little burnout on the way out for his initial laps, starting off with an average lap speed of 190 mph and quickly working through all of the phases of the mandatory Rookie Orientation Program, where he has to complete a certain number of laps at certain speeds, working his way up. Per Motorsport.com:
Alonso’s target was to cover 10 laps at 205-210 mph, 15 laps at 210-215, and then 15 laps between 215 mph and 220 mph.
Racing legend Mario Andretti popped on to the live stream to compliment how Alonso was getting used to the car so quickly.
“This is perfect,” Andretti said as Alonso was working up to breaking 210 mph for an average lap speed. “He’s looking good. I like his line. He’s very conservative.”
Conservative was the name of the game early on in the day, with the team gradually letting Alonso get acclimated to the car. Alonso didn’t shy away from the car, or reject it outright as some drivers from other series have done in the past. He nailed the Andretti team’s requested speed like clockwork.
Once the mandatory speeds were out of the way, Alonso eventually hit a top average lap speed of 222.5 mph. I’d say it’s going well, and man, is that a relief.
Alonso’s Indianapolis 500 run has been a breath of fresh air for those of us who appreciate racers who will hop into everything for the love of racing. It’s a solid throwback to the racers of the past who entered everything they could, because they could—and the very opposite of today’s hyper-separate, too-serious, un-fun, #brand-tastic world where racers stick to their primary team and rarely run outside their main motorsport.
It’d be nice to see Alonso happy again, too, because it sucks seeing a great driver stuck in a crappy car. Given the smiles and gentle pats of his steering wheel we’ve seen this morning, fans are finally getting that wish.
And boy, did they turn out for it. Over 76,000 fans watched Alonso’s first laps on IndyCar’s YouTube stream alone. That’s more interest than I’ve ever seen in a single-car test day where there’s little drama expected.
You can keep up with the rest of Alonso’s test today on the live stream here. Testing continues as they try to fit in as much practice time as they can before any wet weather comes in.