McLaren Honda Formula One Team driver Fernando Alonso has admitted he’s looking forward to racing in the United States for the second time in 2017, saying that the country has given him “lots of happy memories” in the past.
In May, Alonso became the first active Formula 1 driver since Teo Fabi in 1984 to compete at the Indianapolis 500, retiring with an engine failure after running at the top end of the order for much of the race.
The event left a lasting impact on Alonso, who expects to show the true pace of the McLaren this weekend.
“After a couple of frustrating races where we haven’t been able to show the improving pace we know we have in our package, I’m excited to head back to the United States.” Alonso said.
“I really enjoy spending time in the States and I have lots of happy memories there. I hope in Austin we can build on the momentum we know we’ve been gathering behind the scenes, despite not being able to show the results on the final timesheets.”
The Spaniard has fallen behind his less experienced team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne in the World Championship due to some adverse luck, but is relishing the opportunity of making up lost ground at a circuit he enjoys – taking a podium finish at the inaugural race in 2012.
“The ‘COTA’ track is a really fun track to race on – every sector is different and achieving the perfect compromise with set-up to suit the constantly-changing characteristics of the lap is what makes the challenge there so unique.”
“It is also wider than a lot of the circuits we’ve been to recently so there are usually some good chances to overtake, which hopefully we can make the most of on Sunday.”
Whilst a repeat of 2012’s podium finish looks highly unlikely for Alonso, the 36-year-old believes that McLaren can still score points in Austin, the car’s potential of late shown by Vandoorne registering two back-to-back seventh placed finishes in Singapore and Malaysia.
Alonso’s buoyancy is furthered by the unpredictability of recent races at the popular Circuit of the Americas, now in it’s sixth year.
“I think there’s the potential to score points if we can pull everything together.”
“There are a lot of factors to take into account and anything can happen at this race – we’ve seen quite a lot of drama both on-track and off it over the last few years – but I’m optimistic we can have a positive weekend if we can maximise every opportunity.”