Fernando Alonso’s Indianapolis 500 race engineer Eric Bretzman insisted the Spaniard asked a lot of the right questions during his first test day in an IndyCar as he completed his Rookie Orientation Program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday.
Alonso completed 110 laps of the 2.5-mile oval and hit 222.548mph on his fastest lap, and Bretzman feels it was a good start for the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team racer, who will skip the Monaco Grand Prix in order to compete in the 101st running of the Indy 500 for Andretti Autosport.
“He’d been in the simulator for some laps, [and] of course you’re never sure how that’s going to pan out,” said Bretzman on Racer. “It was closer than what he expected so he was reasonably comfortably pretty quick. I think a lot of it was how he imagined; maybe not all of it.
“I think he’s got a very good understanding and very good appreciation for the details and nuances of the track and the different corners and different lines. He’s asking a lot of the right questions, seems to be worried about a lot of the right things. Pretty impressed.”
Bretzman believes Alonso would have continued the test had the rain not come, but he knows that there are still things for the Spaniard to learn going forward, particularly when it comes to hitting 230mph for the first time and running in traffic.
“He would have stayed until the sun went down if it didn’t rain,” said Bretzman. “It is not happening faster than him at the moment, so that’s good. He’s got more experiences he needs to encounter, and has all of the running in traffic to encounter, so we had a talk about that tonight.
“That will be his next big challenge to take that in and figure out what to do with it and our next big challenge is to keep making the window wider on the car to put the car where he wants it.
“We’ve been telling him some of the usual pitfalls you have to watch out for. Obviously you can’t keep reducing push because you’re going to find out the hard way [and understeer into the wall].
“He’s got a pretty good hard disk on his shoulders and he’s processing a lot as well. We have to teach him how to practice, and help him to understand the questions he needs to ask.”