INDIANAPOLIS -- McLaren's Formula One boss Zak Brown said it was "shocking", but not surprising, to see Fernando Alonso's rookie Indy 500 appearance scuppered by a Honda engine failure.
Alonso's bid to win the iconic oval race at the first attempt ended on lap 179 -- 21 laps short of the finish line -- when his engine failed down the main straight. It was an ironic end to the race, given the fact he decided to miss the Monaco Grand Prix due to Honda's uncompetitive and unreliable F1 power unit, its third in a row since returning with McLaren in 2015.
"He drove awesome," Brown told ESPN after the race. "The car was great, the team did a great job, Fernando did a great job, and it's just a shame to see it go up in a puff of smoke, which is something we see far too often."
Asked how he felt when the Honda engine failed, Brown replied: "Sad for Fernando, everyone at McLaren, everyone at Andretti. We've had a painful -- a very painful -- couple of years and this was hopefully intended as part of the programme to give us a good result, to be let down again as we have been is just shocking ... but [I'm] not surprised."
Before the sixth caution of the race on lap 149, Alonso had looked well placed, occasionally leading and rarely dropping out of the top six. Just before his failure Alonso had been battling Takuma Sato, who went on to win the race on a near-identical strategy, something Brown thinks proved the two-time world champion had a genuine shot.
"We didn't get a great restart. We had that we were about fourth place car there. He [Alonso] came on the radio and said he felt he had a good race car, so I think given how the race finished and where he was running, [it is] easy to say 'woulda, coulda, shoulda' won. I think he would have been right there at the end."