Max Chilton has no doubts that Fernando Alonso will have a strong debut Indianapolis 500 in 2017, but the Spaniard will need to learn how to race on an oval for the first time.
Chilton made the move to the Verizon IndyCar Series at the beginning of 2016 and made his Indianapolis 500 debut last year with Chip Ganassi Racing, finishing fourteenth, but the Briton feels the Spaniard will find the racing aspect of IndyCar racing much different to what he has experienced in Formula 1, although he expects him to be fast.
“I’m a huge fan of Fernando Alonso and I have always said that he is the best driver out there,” said Chilton at an event at McLaren’s Headquarters ahead of Alonso’s debut with McLaren-Honda-Andretti at IMS. “So I have no doubt that he is going to do well.
“It’s not really that aspect of going flat out and setting a lap time, it’s the racing aspect. That’s the difficult thing. When you’ve got no downforce on the car, basically doing 230mph through a corner it does take skill flat, but it’s timing your decisions.”
Chilton admitted that he had the same thoughts as Alonso when he first stepped out of an IndyCar at IMS, and admitted the Spaniard is likely to be mentally drained by the experience in the Indy 500.
“Looking a Fernando’s quotes when he got out the car, he said he never realised his right foot had a brain,” said Chilton. “That’s exactly what I said. You get to the corner and your right foot has its own mind, it doesn’t want to do what your mind is telling you to.
“So it’s very mentally draining. As a rookie, that’s the thing, the more mental aspect”.