Alonso to have de Ferran as mentor for Indianapolis debut


Gil de Ferran (left) will mentor Fernando Alonso at Indy - Credit: Joe Skibinski / IndyCar

Fernando Alonso will have two-time IndyCar Series champion Gil de Ferran as a mentor during his maiden venture into the Indianapolis 500 next month.

De Ferran, who won the Indy 500 back in 2003, will be in the corner of the Spaniard, who is looking to add a victory at the Brickyard to his resume as he bids to become only the second driver to win the Triple Crown of motorsport.

Only Graham Hill has been victorious in all three – the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indy 500 – but Alonso is aiming to mark off the second one of those races in 2017.

It will be Alonso’s first experience of the Verizon IndyCar Series and of oval racing, and de Ferran is a perfect choice to help the Spaniard to adapt.

“I will try to mentor him through his introduction to the speedway and its nuances,” said de Ferran to BBC Sport.

Alonso admits that having de Ferran in his corner will be beneficial to him and his chances this year of becoming a rookie winner, as he makes his debut with Andretti Autosport.

“I’m with the best team possible for this type of lessons that I need to learn,” said Alonso on visiting Barber Motorsports Park, the venue for last weekend’s latest round of the IndyCar season.

“I’m also with coach Gil de Ferran, which I’m sure will be very, very useful for all these new things that I need to learn.”

Alonso feels racing at Indianapolis will be a bigger challenge for him as a Formula 1 driver than the final part of his triple crown, which would be the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“The biggest task is definitely the Indy 500 for a Formula One driver,” said Alonso. “I think it’s quite different. It’s challenging … the level of downforce, the feeling with the car, running with a car that is not symmetric on the straights, on braking. Traffic I think is a big thing…

“Some of the F1 drivers that jump into the Le Mans car, they have no difficulties in terms of adapting. The 24 Hours is a little different, it’s a more relaxed race, you can do it at an older age.”