Pagenaud tells Alonso: Full IndyCar season the only way to win Indy 500

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2019 Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud says Fernando Alonso needs to join IndyCar full-time if he wants to win the Triple Crown.

The Spaniard is only a victory at the Brickyard away from becoming the second driver in history to complete the trifecta, which includes the Monaco Grand Prix and Le Mans 24 Hours.

So far Alonso has attempted the Indy 500 twice, retiring in 2017 before failing to qualify for this year's edition.

“It’s not easy to win Indy,” said Pagenaud via RaceFans. “It took me a few years. It took Tony Kanaan 13 years to make it happen. Ask Dario Franchitti, he’ll tell you.

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“It’s one of the most difficult races to win because it’s once a year, it’s 500 miles, eight pit stops. You need a perfect team to do pit stops right, strategy to be perfect. You need the right engine that year, right teammates to help you set the car up.

“You can’t make mistakes on set-up otherwise you’ll be buried back there all day long. It’s a nightmare of a day when the car’s not good because you’re doing 400 [kilometres] an hour at the end of the straight and you’re following a fighter jet plane ahead of you with turbulence. So you’ve got to deal with all that.

“The temperature is a big problem too. The temperature rises, the car becomes very loose, the rear end slides a lot, it makes your life very complicated.”

For 2020, McLaren, with whom Alonso remains affiliated, is returning full-time to IndyCar in a tie-up with Arrow SPM but there is no sign right now that the 38-year-old will be taking the seat alongside James Hinchcliffe.

Instead, his focus is on a first bid at the Dakar Rally with Toyota in January and Pagenaud believes Alonso needs to reconsider his Indy approach.

“It’s just as complicated as winning Le Mans but imagine having 33 competitors just as good as you against you,” he said. “To me, it’s probably the toughest race to win because of the competition and all the factors that come in play.

“Obviously it’s him, it’s his decision, his career, it’s what he feels is right. But to me I feel I need to be fully in, doing the full season with my team, knowing them and them knowing me, to have a chance to win Indy again and again.”