Alonso: “I prefer to be here, even 34th, than being at home”
A gutted Fernando Alonso, who has failed to qualify for the 103rd Running of the Indy 500, nonetheless believes it was better to try and fail than not try at all, and suggested he intends to return for a third attempt.
The former Formula 1 star’s McLaren-Chevrolet was bumped from the grid by Kyle Kaiser’s Juncos Racing-Chevy, and was asked by the media if he would try again to add the Indy 500 to his victories in the Monaco GP and Le Mans.
“I don't know; right now I think it's difficult to make any promise,” he replied. “It's just too soon to make decisions. I don't know even what I will do after next month Le Mans 24 hours and finish my program in the World Endurance Championship.
“I wanted to have 2020 open because I don't know exactly what opportunities may come for me for next year in terms of racing. So… until I know the program for next year, I cannot promise or have any idea in my mind.
“But as I always say, I would be more than happy to race here again in the future and to win the triple crown, which is still a target or different target. You know, maybe I race different series with different challenges, maybe next year, as well, completely out of my comfort zone again. This type of challenge… they can bring you a lot of success and you can be part of the history of the sport or you can be really disappointed.
“Today is one of those, but I prefer to be here than to be like millions and millions of other people, at home watching TV. I prefer to try.”
He later returned to this theme of endeavor, adding: “In terms of motorsport in general, to be here and at least try, it deserves some credit. Obviously we are all disappointed, and we will try to do better next time. But it's that kind of things that you learn. I said before, I prefer to be here, even 34th, than being at home like last year.”
“I tried my best, every attempt”
Asked if he could explain his failure to qualify, Alonso said he spared nothing in terms of effort and that the car simply wasn’t quick enough.
“I think it's a combination of things,” he stated. “We were not fast, not only today; I think the whole event, we were struggling a little bit.
“But these four laps in qualifying especially are four laps where you are flat [on the throttle]. There is not really anything big that you need to drive. As long as you don't lift, it's more or less the speed on the car that put you in one position or another – or the time of the day. But we had multiple attempts yesterday and different times. We should be okay if the car was quick enough, but we didn't manage to achieve that.
“You know, I tried my best, every attempt. I drove with a loose car and didn't lift off. I drove with an understeer car, I didn't lift off. I drove with a rear puncture – I only lift off in the last lap because I could not make the corner.
“And today we went out with an experiment that we did overnight,” he said, referring to the Andretti Autosport setups and shocks/dampers. “We changed everything on the car because we thought that maybe we need something… different to go into the race with some confidence. Because… even if we were qualifying today, we were not maybe in the right philosophy to race next Sunday. We went out not knowing what the car will do in Turn 1, but we’re still flat. So we tried.”
Alonso returned to the theme of he and McLaren enjoying diversity, as he answered a question about the positives he might be able to take away from this year’s Indy 500 project.
“I think there are always things that you learn and things that you improve for next time you're here, the next challenge – not only in the Indy 500 but as a driver. I still feel proud.
“Obviously I'm disappointed now because we will not be in the race, but as I said, even for McLaren, they will be a bit thin in the next day or next two days, and then everyone will forget. But the next two days it will be maybe hard for the team. I feel it’s unfair a little bit if things goes on that way. We didn't do the job. We were not quick enough. Simple. The others, they did better. We congratulate them.
“But at the same time, I think McLaren is the only team in motorsport that won the Indy 500, won the Le Mans 24 hours, won the Formula 1 championship. You can only do that if you try. If you stay only in one series and you concentrate there for all your history or your organization is only racing in one series, maybe you can succeed, you can have good seasons, bad seasons. But you are in that small world.”
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