Jean Alesi expressed relief after qualifying in last place on Bump Day for next Sunday's Indianapolis 500.
Both Alesi (Fan Force United) and fellow Lotus-powered runner Simona de Silvestro (HVM) made the field after completing the formalities of Bump Day qualifying, which is reserved for the cars that missed out on the top 24 places on the previous qualifying day. Had any late entries arrived to challenge for one of the 33 places, the Lotuses could potentially have been knocked out of the event.
"Now I can breathe," said Alesi. "It's a big relief for me to finally get into this race. I have wanted to do this race ever since I was young.
"Of course, I am disappointed because I don't have the car I thought I would have, but it was all we could get, and we took it. It's frustrating to not have the same speed as the others. I am a professional – I have passion inside of me. I want to do the maximum that I can, with the car that I have."
Alesi will start from the rear of the grid after posting the slowest time of the day; the former Formula 1 star wound up with an average speed 16.4mph slower than that of polesitter Ryan Briscoe. Last year, with Honda V8 engines in all the cars (the previous-spec Dallara), the spread from the fastest to slowest qualifiers at Indy was 3.6mph, with polesitter Alex Tagliani at 227.472mph.
Quickest of the Bump Day runners was Dragon's Sebastien Bourdais, whose team switched from Lotus to Chevrolet power last week.