INDIANAPOLIS -- Fernando Alonso’s return to the Indianapolis 500 suffered a temporary setback Wednesday when he crashed during practice.
Alonso’s No. 66 McLaren Racing Chevrolet slid into the SAFER Barrier on the exit of Turn 3 at 12:35 p.m. ET. It skidded across the track into the inside SAFER Barrier in the short chute before striking the outside barrier in Turn 4 and coming to a stop. Alonso got out of the car unassisted and was not injured.
“It was understeer on the car, and even if I lifted the throttle on the entry of the corner, it was not enough, and I lost completely the front aero,” Alonso said after being checked and released at the IU Health Emergency Medical Center on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway grounds. “The wall came too close and too quickly. Unfortunately, it happened today. We will lose a little bit of running time again. I’m sorry for the team, but we will learn and hopefully we will come back stronger tomorrow.”
Alonso and his team had been struggling with electrical issues and sat out much of Tuesday’s first day of practice to address them. He returned to the track Wednesday morning and recorded 46 laps, with a best of 225.433 mph before the crash.
“I’m disappointed and sad for the team and for the guys,” Alonso said. “We worked quite a lot on the car and definitely now it’s quite damaged, so I feel sorry for the team and for my mistake. We will learn from this.”
Alonso said the car suddenly lost traction while trailing the car of Graham Rahal in the middle of Turn 3.
“It was just pure understeer that I didn’t expect,” Alonso said. “I was running a bit close to another car and suddenly mid-corner I lost completely the front grip. I tried to lift off and avoid the wall.”
Shortly after the crash, Alonso posted this tweet:
The two-time Formula One champion competed in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in 2017 with Andretti Autosport in a partnership with McLaren, starting fifth and finishing 24th after a mechanical issue sidelined the car on the 179th lap of the 200-lap race.
McLaren officials reported that they hoped to have the primary car repaired and back on track before the 6 p.m. end of Wednesday’s practice.