Double Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso starred on his Indianapolis 500 debut, battling for the lead for much of the race – before eventually retiring with an engine failure.
Former Formula 1 driver Takuma Sato won the race in his Andretti-Honda, after a thrilling late-race battle with three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves.
Alonso, who skipped the Monaco Grand Prix to tackle the historic event on the 2.5-mile speedway, had qualified fifth in his Andretti-Honda. After a steady start to the event, Alonso moved up the order after the first round of pitstops, taking the lead on lap 39 out of 200.
Despite his lack of prior oval racing experience Alonso traded the lead several times with team-mates Alexander Rossi and Sato.
A red flag and a series of caution periods shuffled the pack heading into the closing stages of the race, dropping Alonso to the lower reaches of the top then. But he was battling his way back to the front when, on the 179th lap, his Honda engine failed.
Alonso received a rousing reception from the Indianapolis crowd when he climbed out of his car.
“It’s a shame, because we deserved at least to finish,” said Alonso. “The racing was fun, and the performance was good. We were up there and leading. It was a nice surprise to come here against the best drivers in the world on ovals and be competitive.”
Asked if he wanted to return to the Indy 500, Alonso added: “I felt competitive. If I came back I’d know how it feels; it would be easier the second time.
“It was really good to come here. This has been one of the best experiences of my career.”
Sato was also shuffled down the order during the mid-race sequence, and had to battle his way back to the lead in the closing laps. He then held off Castroneves for glory, taking his second career IndyCar Series win.
"It's an unbelievable feeling," said Sato. "It was a tough, tough race. Helio really drives fair, so I could trust him and we had a fantastic race."