Fernando Alonso will be faced with many challenges next month at Indianapolis but former F1 rival Juan Pablo Montoya sees no reason why the McLaren driver can't do well.
Alonso ambitious bid to take on the celebrated Indy 500 came as a surprise to everyone, including Juan Pablo Montoya. But once the initial shock had subsided, assessments of the Spaniard's chances have taken over.
Montoya, a seven-time Grand Prix winner, won at the Brickyard on his first visit in 2000 and then again in 2015. The Columbian is out of a full-time drive this year in Indycar but will be on the 33-car grid at Indy as he enjoys a one-off with Team Penske.
"I think having Fernando is going to be a really good day for motorsports, not only for IndyCar, but I think the attention overall for seeing Fernando and myself and everybody running Indy is going to be really big," Montoya said.
The former Williams and McLaren driver believes the change of scenery, both on and off the track, will surprise Alonso.
"It’s a lot of people out there," Montoya said.
"It is weird, because you go out there and you get the announcement then you have a picture and then you’ve got like 15 minutes and then you walk to the car and you get in and you start.
"It is so many people around you. I think that’s a little bit hard for him from what he is used to in Formula 1 and he has been doing that for a lot of years.
"We started the same year together when I was there in F1, so he’s been doing it for a long time. It’s just you have your own space and people really respect your space and here no, the fans, the sponsors, everybody are there and everybody wants a picture and you’ve got to please them."
Once he hits the race track, Alonso will have a steep learning curve. But Montoya believes that as long as he respects a linear progression, the two-time F1 world champion should be okay despite a few hurdles which will remain on race day.
"The biggest challenge is going to be, first, he has never done a race that is that long, and the traffic,” Montoya said.
"He is going to have to learn and understand the traffic. I think if he is patient enough through the week and builds to it, I think he will be fine.
"He is a really good driver. He has really good teammates. People have run at Indy before and run well. There is no reason why he shouldn’t run well."