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Oval ‘concern’ rules Alonso out of IndyCar series tilt

Mat Coch

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Thursday 7th May, 2020 - 8:23am

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Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso has admitted that his concern about racing on ovals will likely keep him out of a full IndyCar series drive.

The two-time Formula 1 world champion is set to undertake his third Indianapolis 500, retiring from his maiden attempt in 2017 with engine failure before failing to qualify for last year’s event.

It’s long been suggested the Spaniard could expand his involvement in the American open-wheel series.

Alonso has all but ruled out such a move citing both the commitment required to be competitive and prospect of racing on ovals as deterrents.

However, he admits it was a prospect he entertained for a time; winning the series would make him the first driver in history to win the Formula 1 world championship, World Endurance Championship, and IndyCar Series.

“That would be unique,” Alonso admitted in an interview posted on the 24 Hours of Le Mans’ Instagram account.

“That would not be the second man in history, that would be the first man in history, and that was always very appealing.

“But, I don’t think so, because the commitment to do that will be too high at this part of my life.

“I think a few years ago, maybe that was a possibility, but right now, to do 16 or 17 races, to know all the circuits — because they race at Laguna Seca, they race at Mid-Ohio, they race at Long Beach — there are circuits that they (IndyCar drivers) know very well for many years, and I don’t know.

“I will require a level of preparation or commitment that maybe at this time in life I’m not happy to take.

“The Indy 500 is already a nice commitment and a long preparation for one race, so I cannot imagine for the whole championship.

“That would be full dedication, and also there are five ovals that you need to respect.

“The Indy 500 is already a risk in a way because the speeds are very high and you take that risk because the reward is very high, but to do the other ovals as well is always a concern for myself.”

Set to turn 39 this year, Alonso won the Formula 1 world championship in 2005 and 2006 with Renault.

He spent the second half of his career chasing a third title, coming close with McLaren in 2007 and Ferrari in 2010 before ultimately stepping away from the sport at the end of 2018.

Since then he’s often been linked with a return, and had cited the introduction of new technical regulations for 2021 as a prime opportunity.

“It’s something that I’ve been answering since 2018 when I did my last race in Abu Dhabi,” Alonso said when asked about the prospect of an F1 return.

“I wanted to go out a little bit of Formula 1 because after 18 years of that routine and that pressure on your shoulders, I needed to breathe a little bit out of that environment.

“I always said, look, in 2021, there are new rules in Formula 1, I may come (back) because maybe there is more interest and the cars are more balanced, and maybe I’m hungry for traveling again or putting myself in contention.

“It’s true that Formula 1 now delayed the rules to 2022,” he added.

“That’s bad news in a way for the sport, because I think they need to balance the cars and they need these new rules as soon as possible.

“But it’s a choice that is understandable because with the current situation it was not possible to develop the cars for next year.

“In my personal case, I know more or less what I’m doing next year, and hopefully many of you will know very soon. I cannot say more.”

The 2020 edition of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for August 23, having been rescheduled from its traditional May date as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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