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Fernando Alonso to switch focus to Indy 500 qualifying

Alonso Indy 500 2017

Fernando Alonso says he plans to concentrate on preparing for Indianapolis 500 qualifying on Friday after setting the fourth fastest time on day four of practice.

The McLaren Honda Andretti driver completed 96 laps and set a best lap average of 225.619mph, compared to pacesetter Jay Howard's 226.744mph.

But after focusing on race setup and learning to master running in traffic so far in practice, Alonso intends to work more on running in clear air on Friday ahead of qualifying on Saturday and Sunday.

"The car felt quite OK from the very beginning in the morning, but we did improve it during the day, so I'm quite happy," said Alonso.

"We work still a lot on the race situation, getting out there with guys and running in traffic.

"Tomorrow we will concentrate on running alone and qualifying, but the priority is the race."

Alonso's driver coach, 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran, said today that his preparation would "ramp up big time" from Thursday.

During Friday practice, drivers will be able to run qualifying-levels of boost with an increase from 1.3 bar to 1.4 bar.

"Gil de Ferran, my coach, told me that the four laps in qualifying will be the most horrible laps you've ever done because the car is very on the limit," said Alonso.

"But I will have a first touch tomorrow on Fast Friday and then we will see on Saturday."

Alonso will draw on the experience of those around him to influence his approach to running in qualifying trim, even though his primary focus remains on the race.

"We are still concentrating on the race situation," said Alonso.

"Tomorrow, they will help me to understand what we need to be quick in qualifying, what is the key point of the qualifying laps."

Alonso added he is still having fun at Indianapolis four days into practice.

But he admits that as practice time is running out, with running happening only on Monday and Friday after qualifying is complete on Sunday, he still has a lot to learn.

"When you meet guys out there, you always learn from what they are doing, what different techniques they are doing," said the Spaniard.

"Every day is interesting and different by itself.

"Unfortunately, the free practice is ending slowly in the week.

"I still miss more laps, but we will try to make the most of it tomorrow with the more power that we have on Friday and try to learn from that.

"We will start from zero tomorrow."

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