Former IndyCar Champion Gil De Ferran says that Fernando Alonso ‘absolutely’ stands a chance of winning the Indy 500 when he decides to return to the Brickyard.
Alonso makes his debut as a World Endurance Championship driver this weekend when he takes the wheel of a Toyota Gazoo Racing LMP1 car, teaming up with former F1 rivals Kazuki Nakajima & Sebastien Buemi. Alonso has signed up for the season, taking part in all the rounds which don’t clash with his F1 commitments, starting this weekend for the 6 Hours of Spa.
Alonso is currently dabbling with other forms of motorsport, having taken part in last season’s Indy 500 – one of the biggest races in motorsport. He led the race for a total of 27 laps in the sole McLaren entry, but retired when his Honda engine blew up close to the finish.
Former IndyCar Champion Gil De Ferran says that the two time F1 World Champion impressed him when he was brought on board to help the Spaniard get ready for IndyCar’s biggest race: “10 years ago, when I was working with Honda, Fernando was winning his World Championships. When I heard about his Indy attempt, I thought I’d get in touch and tell him “Hey, let me know if I can help.” Sure enough, we came to an arrangement, and I helped him and coached him as well with the guys from McLaren.
I’m a big admirer of his craft, ever since i saw him drive a Minardi in 2001. I noticed him at Interlagos that year and thought “who is that?”…You’re not going to teach a guy like that how to drive and how to feel the car. He has a tremendous amount of talent. I tried to help him think about the differences between road racing and oval racing, and address the challenges that he might not have thought about”.
While Alonso won’t take part in this year’s Indy race, instead taking part in the Le Mans 24 Hours, De Ferran says he believes that he is a definite contender to one day drink the famous pint of milk:
“He’s a true racer, one of the best drivers in history. Very intense, intelligent, and kind. His work ethic is second to none.
Can he win it? Absolutely he can. If it has four wheels and a steering wheel, if you put Fernando Alonso in it, he has a chance.”