"Phenomenal" Alonso "wasting time" in F1 says Andretti

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Former Formula 1 world champion and Indy 500 winner Mario Andretti believes Fernando Alonso is currently "wasting time" in F1 after his appearance at Indianapolis this past weekend.

The Spaniard has only one race finish to his name in F1 this year, coming at his home race in Spain as McLaren engine partner Honda struggles to overcome major issues with its power unit. 

It was those problems that mostly allowed Alonso to take part in the world's most famous oval race, with the British team returning to Indy as part of a tie-up with Andretti Autosport, run by Mario's son Michael.  

Ultimately, the venture would end in disappointment due to an engine failure 21 laps from the end but the double F1 champion left a lasting impression on everyone.

"Phenomenal," was how Andretti described Alonso's performance when asked by ESPN. "I'm so, so impressed, and not surprised one bit because he showed that poise from the very beginning at practice. He was out there maximising at all times possible, trying to test in all possible conditions.

"In the race I thought a lot of things would be thrown at him -- you know what, they did and he knew what to do with it. I'm totally impressed and that's what I feel so sorry for him to be let down on what should have been a really happy day. He would have had an interesting end to this race."

Considering how he'll be seen when he returns to the F1 paddock next week in Montreal, Mario added: "I guarantee that his stock is raised, no question about it. That respect, he deserves it. He did everything he needed to do, plus. So you can't beat that. There were no losers here. Except for that one engine!"

Now that the one-off appearance in IndyCar is done, attention will switch back to the ongoing situation in F1, with McLaren and Honda's struggles likely to continue and Alonso soon set to be considering his future as he is in the last year of his current contract with the Woking team.

"It is difficult," Andretti, who previously suggested Alonso should consider IndyCar in 2018, continued. "The only thing that keeps a driver happy is to be competitive, anything else is total frustration and you don't know who to take it out on! I feel sorry for him, he's at the top of his game and wasting time.

"McLaren is feeling the same pain obviously because that's a team that only knows how to be in front and they are paying the cost with him, that's why they backed him on this effort to try and get a smile on his face. He had it until the end of the race!

"It can only get better for him from here in terms of F1," he insisted, "it looks like they have a chassis for sure. The engine situation, it's going to get better. I'm sure he's going to be in the points before the season is out."