Six time IndyCar race winner James Hinchcliffe has tipped Fernando Alonso for a strong race at the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday despite starting 26th of 33 drivers.
Alonso became the first driver to make contact with the unforgiving concrete walls of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice for 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing', and while Hincliffe believes this played a part in the Spaniard's poor qualifying performance, the race, he feels, will be a different matter.
Hinchcliffe told NBC: “I definitely think that his practice crash hurt his qualifying speed. He definitely would have broken some of those extra-special parts that you need to go fast on qualifying, but I don’t think it’s going to affect his race performance.
“He is very racy, he’s got good tow speeds, he knows how to draft up in these cars – we saw that all through practice week. He was top five an awful lot so I think that team and that driver are going to be ones to watch in terms of moving forwards.
“He’s way further back than he would like to be in qualifying, but if someone’s going to show people that passing can happen in these cars around this track on Sunday, it’s going to be Fernando Alonso.”
Signing with the Renault Formula 1 team for 2021, Alonso has commented that this could be his final shot at victory in the Indy 500 as, unlike the situation he enjoyed at McLaren, the 39-year-old will not be able to split his time between the two series.
On this topic, Hinchcliffe commented: “I hope it’s not his last attempt at the Indy 500 because he’s such a talent and we’d love to see him around here for years to come."
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