Obviously, there was even more focus on the Indy 500 from the motorsport world in 2017 with the debut of a certain Formula 1 star, Fernando Alonso.
This sparked a range of comments from the F1 paddock about Alonso’s decision to ditch the Monaco GP and race at the Indy 500.
He qualified fifth and battled for the lead in the first half of the iconic oval race, before retiring when his Honda engine – ironically – blew up. Alonso just can’t catch a break…
In the run-up to the Indy 500, three-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton was quoted by French magazine L’Equipe questioning the quality of the drivers in IndyCar. He said:
“I looked at the times and, frankly, for his first ever qualifying, for Fernando to be fifth – what does that say about Indy? A great driver, if he cannot win in Formula 1, will look for other races to win. But to see him fifth against drivers who are (in IndyCar) all year is… interesting.”
Following Tony Kanaan’s burn on Hamilton, Rahal – who won Saturday’s first Detroit race – followed suit by hitting back at the comments:
“When I saw Lewis Hamilton’s comment… it took me everything I had in my body not to say something. Legitimately, in Formula 1, over his entire career, it’s been a two-car race, four max. Here you have, like, Hinch who spins on lap one. You’re going, ‘He’s done.’ No, he had the pace, he had a great strategy, he made some moves. I think he went for a three-stopper, ran blacks, ran hard, had the speed to get through. Next thing you know he’s in third.”
Rahal added that winning feels like “you really accomplished something great” due to the intense competition, before adding:
The Mayor of Hinchtown also had his say on Hamilton’s dismissive remarks, explaining:
“It’s funny hearing criticism about the depth of our field from someone who has to race three other cars, when we have seven winners in the first seven races. It shows how competitive this series is, the parity between the manufacturers, between teams, just how difficult it is to win one of these races.
“You really have to have everything go your way,” he observed. “Pit stops have to be perfect, [yellow] flags have to fall in your favour, and – oh yeah – you have to be pretty good behind the wheel of a good car.”
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