Clutch problem hinders Alonso at Indy as O'Ward stars

Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet was left with a mixture of frustration, satisfaction and relief as Fernando Alonso, Patricio O’Ward and Oliver Askew experienced wildly differing results in the Indianapolis 500.

Clutch problem hinders Alonso at Indy as O'Ward stars

O’Ward delivered a well deserved sixth place after climbing to a legitimate third in the race, behind only Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi, and then containing his natural exuberance and frustration as the car’s balance went away and began to look skittish.

"My crew did an amazing job in the pit stops,” said the 2018 Indy Lights champion, who was classified as an Indy 500 rookie, after his DNQ in 2019. “We were fighting up there with Dixon, Rossi and Takuma Sato – great job to him.

“Toward the end, we just didn’t have enough to get those in front of us. I think we juiced out the car and got everything out of it.

“We were right behind Josef [Newgarden] in fifth for Chevrolet, so I think it was a good job for my first-ever Indy 500. Obviously, here the only thing that matters is winning. I’m excited to come back next year and try and get that win, as this place is pretty special.”

Read Also:

With this result, O’Ward has moved up to third in the championship, headed only by Dixon and Newgarden.

His full-time teammate and another Indy 500 rookie, Oliver Askew, had a major shunt after starting 21st and going off strategy with Team Penske’s three former Indy winners, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Helio Castroneves.

When this quartet’s tactics came into play and they hit the front of the field, Askew was able to pass and hold off Power and Castroneves and run second, and looked their equal when running in the pack, too.

However, as the field came to the green at a restart on Lap 92, Conor Daly spun his Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet through Turn 4, and when Askew hit the brakes in the resultant smoke, his car speared off left, spun and struck the inside wall’s SAFER barrier hard, just before pit entrance.

Looking stunned and winded, he emerged from the cockpit and was checked and released from the infield medical care center.

“First of all, I need to thank the AMR Safety Team, Dallara and IndyCar for keeping us as safe as possible in these cars going these speeds,” said the reigning Indy Lights champion who scored his first podium just last month at Iowa Speedway.

“I'm sorry for the #7 Arrow McLaren SP team. They've worked so hard all week, all month, all year building up to this event. So, to have a result like this is really sad for all of us, but we will move on to Gateway next weekend.

“I was really happy with the pace we had and the aggressive strategies we were running. We were trying to make something happen, with passing being at a premium at this race. Thanks again to the team for all their hard work."

Fernando Alonso, Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet

Fernando Alonso, Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet

Photo by: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images

Alonso’s return to the Brickyard ended in disappointment, finishing 21st and a lap down, after going off-strategy initially like Askew and three of the Penske entries, but struggling to capitalize, partly due to a clutch problem.

The two-time F1 world champion explained: “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 tire 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…

“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.

“I’m happy to finish the race, cross the line and have one 500 miles in the pocket, that’s the positive thing. 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. The strategy and pit stops meant we were always gaining positions. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done over the last couple of weeks. We tried to race, but luck was not with us today, but I’m proud of the effort from everyone in the team.”

Alonso has already ruled out Indy 500 attempts in 2021 and ’22 because he will be returning to Formula 1 with Renault, replacing McLaren-bound Daniel Ricciardo.

shares
comments

Related video

Penske positive about Indy 500’s “remarkable show”
Previous article

Penske positive about Indy 500’s “remarkable show”

Next article

Dixon “surprised” stewards didn’t red flag Indy 500 for late crash

Dixon “surprised” stewards didn’t red flag Indy 500 for late crash
Load comments
Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021 Prime

Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

In an enthralling 2021 IndyCar campaign, the series bounced back from its COVID-19 truncated year prior and series sophomore Alex Palou defeated both the established order and his fellow young guns to clinch a maiden title. It capped a remarkable season with plenty of standout performers

IndyCar
Nov 22, 2021
How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar Prime

How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar

Marcus Ericsson enjoyed a breakout year in the IndyCar Series in 2021, winning twice and finishing sixth in points with Chip Ganassi Racing. How did he finally unlock the potential that was masked by five years of toil in Formula 1 with Caterham and Sauber/Alfa Romeo?

IndyCar
Nov 16, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win Prime

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win

Saturday, Oct. 16th, marks the 10th anniversary Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500.

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Prime

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Jack Harvey’s move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate, but their combined strength could prove golden, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 15, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Prime

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong résumé and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star Prime

2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star

Alex Palou has captured Chip Ganassi Racing's 14th IndyCar drivers' championship, and in truly stellar manner. David Malsher-Lopez explains what made the Palou-Ganassi combo so potent so soon.

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Prime

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021