(Reuters) - Fernando Alonso survived his first Brickyard “Happy Hour” on Tuesday, the twice Formula One world champion getting a taste of what he can expect when he lines up for the Indianapolis 500 later this month.
The practice session was just the third at the track for Alonso, who will miss the Monaco Grand Prix to race the Indy 500.
Alonso completed 117 laps in his McLaren Honda Andretti Autosport around the sprawling 2.5 mile oval and also got a feel for what it might be like on race day, participating in what is known as “Happy Hour”.
The final 60 minutes of the day-long practise session saw most of the 33 cars attempting to qualify for the May 28 classic simulating race conditions.
”It was good, very positive and productive day,“ said Alonso, who has put learning to drive in the traffic and turbulence as his biggest challenge. ”We did a lot of laps, a lot of learning, some group running, finally with some traffic.
“So, it is information I will sleep on and be a better oval driver tomorrow.”
Alonso produced the 24th best effort of the 33 cars on the track on Tuesday with a top speed of 221.029 mph.
As part of the Andretti Autosport stable that will field six cars for the race, Alonso is benefiting from the experience of his team mates that include last year’s winner Alexander Rossi and 2014 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.
”I‘m on the best team for that; we are six cars and we were running together,“ explained Alonso. ”My teammates were amazing helping me.
“I was learning every lap, when I follow them, learning what they do, how they attack the next corner or the next lap, how they prepare the overtaking, so, it was very useful and a very productive day.”
Powerhouse Penske Racing dominated Day Two with Australian Will Power at the top of timing charts, posting the fastest lap of 224.656 mph followed by team mate Brazilian Helio Castroneves, who is chasing a record equalling fourth Indy 500 win.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Larry Fine