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Michael Andretti outlines plans for Indy 500 rookie Fernando Alonso

Former racer and team owner Michael Andretti will act as McLaren Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso's strategist for his Indianapolis 500 debut

Andretti Autosport will run Alonso as its sixth car in next month's race, alongside regular drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Takuma Sato and Alexander Rossi, and rookie Jack Harvey in another one-off entry.

The Honda-powered squad has won the Indy 500 four times, including in 2014 with Hunter-Reay and last year with Rossi as a rookie, and team owner Andretti will return to an active in-race role to call Alonso's strategy.

The Spaniard will visit IndyCar's Barber race on April 23, then have time in Honda Performance Development's simulator and visit Andretti's base in Indianapolis.

"One good thing is about this is that we know how to deal with rookies, and we'll have to consider Fernando a rookie," said Andretti

"But we know what a talent he is, too, and he'll be up to speed very quick, running right there with his team-mates.

"Then the next step will be getting him in traffic. We'll do that when he feels comfortable running by himself, and we'll work from there.

"The advantage that he has is a lot of team-mates there to help him out, if he's got any questions.

"The four veterans that are on the team will be more than happy to help him and will go out of their way to help him.

"So I'm not worried about it at all. I mean, we did it with Rossi last year.

"The first oval he ever saw was Phoenix, and then his first high-speed oval was Indianapolis and you saw what happened.

"So he's going to be in the thick of things in my opinion."

Eric Bretzman, Scott Dixon's engineer for his first three IndyCar titles and 2008 Indy 500 win, will work as Alonso's race engineer.

Alonso will fly to Indianapolis immediately after the Spanish Grand Prix to start practice, although Andretti says the scope to get him in the car beforehand is being investigated as a cover for wet weather.

"We're looking at getting him in the car before the Month of May," he said.

"We're still working on that. But [the weather] is going to be what it is and we'll have to deal with it as it comes."

While F1 testing is limited and teams and drivers rely on simulators, Andretti cautioned against Alonso using them too much to prepare for his first taste of oval racing.

"Simulators for ovals, you've gotta be a little careful with," he said.

"It can give you a little bit of a different feel from the reality of the situation.

"So I'm a little wary of putting him in a simulator, we'll talk about it when I next speak with him."

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