Alonso reaches Fast Nine Shootout and guns for Indy pole!

ยฉIndycar

"Short and intense", was how Fernando Alonso described his four-lap qualifying run for the Indy 500 on Saturday.

The McLaren Honda Andretti driver clocked in a lap at 230.034mph to end the day seventh in a session topped by two-time Indianapolis polesitter Ed Carpenter at 230.468mph.

Saturday dawned wet and soggy at the Speedway, with rain forcing a delay of a session also disrupted by Sebastien Bourdais massive crash in Turn 2.

Despite reaching the Fast Nine Shootout group which will gun for pole position today, Alonso felt he could have done better.

"With the weather today we only had this chance, only one opportunity," said the Spaniard.

"I'm not totally happy with the run itself, I could find a little bit more speed here and there. Every lap out there, you need to keep learning and you need to keep improvising a little bit what you are doing.

"The car felt great all week long, that gave me the confidence to pushing and pushing to the limit.

"Hopefully in the Fast Nine and we can extract the maximum because I think the potential is there and today was ninety percent."

The pace of Alonso's four-lap run tapered off slightly in the last two laps as a bit of understeer eroded his speed. The McLaren driver believed more work was necessary to improve his car's balance.

"We need to review the downforce level," he told Autosport about what changes he wanted to make.

"When we ran, it was quite hot in that moment so we will see tomorrow what the conditions are when we are running and will decide on the exact level of downforce.

"On the setup change, probably we can do small tweaks to make the run a little more comfortable and more consistent hopefully."

The two-time F1 world champion admitted to be surprised to finish the day in the top-9.

"It was unthinkable probably," he added.

"Not because you don't trust yourself or whatever, but there are many little ingredients here that you need to put together to find the right recipe.

"There is the wind, the trim, the high boost you only have a few laps to test with on Fast Friday and today the conditions changed every single lap."

Despite his unexpected result, Alonso said he would go into the shootout session on Sunday aiming for the ultimate prize: pole position for the Indy 500!

"Everyone will pick up speed tomorrow, after today's run we will tune the car a bit and try to be a bit more competitive," he said.

"When I close the visor, you have to be sure I will go for it."

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