Former F1 driver and two time Indy 500 winner Juan-Pablo Montoya has texted McLaren driver Fernando Alonso to offer help in preparation for the Spaniards shock debut in this years Indy 500 race
Alonso and McLaren shocked the Motorsport world on Wednesday by announcing their plans to compete in the 101st running of the famous race and the F1 driver is to skip the Monaco Grand Prix as a result. Montoya and Alonso both made their F1 debuts in 2001 with Williams and Minardi respectively and raced together until 2006 when Montoya left McLaren mid-season to go to NASCAR. Montoya is only competing in the Grand Prix of Indy and the 500 itself this year after returning to the IndyCar series in 2014 and nearly winning the title in 2015. He has reached out to Alonso, but says he should have no issues adjusting to the series.
“I texted him as soon as I heard, but I don’t think he’ll need a lot of help. For me, if you’re confident of your own situation, I’m not a big believer in hiding stuff from anybody. Fernando is a hell of a racer; I could relate a lot to him and the way he raced when we used to compete together. He just needs to learn how an oval works and particularly the technique of following other cars. In setting up the car, I think he’s going to do a good job. He will have a good feel.”
“But the big thing in Indy is balancing what you need from the car when you run by yourself against what you need from the car when you run in traffic, sometimes a big group of cars. It’s an interesting feeling. You really want to have a little bit of understeer – that will be the biggest adjustment for him, because in Formula 1 you always want that perfect balance, and for the car to feel quite free in the high-speed corners. On an oval, you really don’t want that, you want a little bit of understeer. But he will do fine. He’s a very good, very experienced driver.”
Montoya cites the new for 2017 F1 cars as a reason Alonso will adjust to driving the Dallara DW12 very quickly. The cornering speeds this year are much much quicker, which will help Alonso adjust to the high speed nature of the Brickyard. Not to mention the wealth of experience Alonso has, and that he is surely one of the greatest racing drivers of his generation. If not the greatest.
“[At] Spa, Silverstone… they have a lot of fast corners. And this year with the extra grip that F1 cars have, the corner speeds are higher so he won’t have an issue. Indy is not about how good you are by yourself, it’s about how good you are in traffic. I think it would be good if Fernando could test on a road course first, just to get used to the car, so when he gets to Indy, all he has to get used to is the oval technique. That is a big thing itself.”
This shock news rivals that of Nico Rosberg quitting F1 as world champion last year. All eyes will be not just on Monaco, but the Indy 500 as well in the month of May.