INDIANAPOLIS – Another day passed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and it was a day when Fernando Alonso and McLaren did not turn a lap in preparation for the 103rd Indianapolis 500.
The team hoped to have its backup car ready to hit the track by 1 or 2 p.m. Eastern Time Thursday, but it was continuing to work on the No. 66 Chevrolet when a rain storm around 4:30 p.m. ended all on-track activity for the remainder of the day.
Alonso and McLaren were the only driver/car combination that did not turn a lap at the 2.5-mile speedway Thursday. That means his first serious track time will have to wait until Friday and that will create a very precarious situation.
Alonso will have to forego full-tank and pack running because extra boost is given to the cars beginning Friday and through qualification weekend.
That is a boost pressure that won’t be used in the race. The majority of the field ran race trim on Thursday and won’t begin speed setups for qualifications until Friday.
Gil de Ferran, the 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner who now serves as sporting director at McLaren, said the team is not rushing to get the backup car ready.
Among the things the team worked on Thursday was an engine change. The team made the call to switch engines when the powerplant from the primary car was found to be damaged in Wednesday’s incident.
“While we have a number of experienced individuals in the team, we are still relatively new as a crew,” de Ferran said. “Because of this and the fact that we have deep respect for Indianapolis, we are being careful and measured in our approach and want to ensure we’re sending the best possible car out on track.
“Not running today was a serious setback to our Indy 500 program, but all is not lost. We should have a full day of practice and preparations for qualifying tomorrow and our goal will be to have a nice, clean day.”