Kurt Verlin
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Fernando Alonso’s Successful IndyCar Rookie Test Draws Impressive 2 Million Views

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Yesterday, over two million people watched Fernando Alonso test-drive an IndyCar—more than normally tune in to watch an actual race, likely because it marked the first time in decades an active Formula One driver was preparing to take part in the upcoming Indianapolis 500 race.

Alonso and Andretti Autosport spent the better part of the day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the race, as before he could be allowed to participate, Alonso was first required to pass rookie driver orientation—a bit amusing given his racing credentials (in Formula One alone: two world championships, 32 race wins, 22 pole positions, and 97 podiums).

Fortunately for everyone involved, it all went very smoothly. Mario Andretti, who provided commentary during the test and whose son Michael founded the Andretti Autosport team, was visibly impressed with Alonso’s performance and called the test “perfect.”

This increased attention is no doubt part of the reason Mark Miles, IndyCar racing’s chief executive, and the people at McLaren Honda and Andretti Autosport Honda have been so keen on making the collaboration happen.

IndyCar has plenty to gain from the massive influx of viewers—and potential new fans—coming from Formula 1, and Formula 1 may also benefit from a new influx of IndyCar viewers who hadn’t heard of the sport, especially if Fernando Alonso storms in and manages to win the race on his first outing—which now seems like a real possibility after yesterday.

And the sponsors, whose brand logos were in full view on Alonso’s race car and suit, were surely rubbing their hands together as well…

Sources: Motorsport, Autoweek