Honda ‘vetoed’ Alonso’s Le Mans debut with Porsche

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Fernando Alonso would have driven Porsche’s new 919 LMP1 car at the Le Mans 24 Hours had it not been for a 11th-hour veto by Honda.

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Toyota als Technik-Vorbild? (Auto Motor und Sport, German)

Porsche approached Alonso to drive their third car at Le Mans this year but McLaren's new engine supplier Honda prevented the move.

FIA open to F1 superlicence tweaks (Autosport)

"The FIA has explained that the reason it awarded F2 so much was motivated by its desire to create a more structured path to F1 for young drivers."

Don't rush to F1, says Hamilton's dad (Reuters)

"By the time (Lewis) arrived in Formula One, he’d got so much experience and appreciation. But he could not have done it without karting. He could not have done it without taking his time and going through the educational process."

Do I not like that: Graham Taylor kicks out at Richard Desmond (The Guardian)

"Morale-sapped staff on the papers think they will struggle to cover Premier League football. The Express has already refused to send reporters to cover Formula One motor racing and some major tennis tournaments."


Comment of the day

The German Grand Prix has struggled to attract an audience in recent years despite the success of Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes. @RBAlonso reckons ticket prices are to blame:

Once again the swings and roundabouts Formula One problem is cost. Races can’t be packed to full capacity because a lot of ticket prices are an unaffordable joke.

The organisers need to charge highly though to get a place on the calendar and most of that money goes into one individuals pocket. This is a mad way for a sport to be run.

Why can the powers at be not see that cheaper prices means more fans at the gate meaning more merchandise sold and more returning fans?

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On this day in F1

As the arguments over F1’s new engines continue, it’s worth revisiting this article from this day last year:

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Keith Collantine
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59 comments on “Honda ‘vetoed’ Alonso’s Le Mans debut with Porsche”

  1. Max Verstappen looks VERY bored in that picture…

    1. @bradley13 naaah, he is worried about what would happen if he crashes this one during the car’s launch… again.

    2. Must have been ‘bring your child to work day’

      1. Hahahahaha

    3. *and @keithcollantine what about a Caption Competition with the most curious pic released during the week? I mean, not old pics (as that one of the Backstreet Bennetonboys), just tweeted or new PR ones.

      1. If you can’t spell “Toro Rosso”
        You can’t drive it Max

    4. That is classic sullen teen look. Yes i know where to brake on this corner….

    5. RB (@frogmankouki)
      17th January 2015, 5:29

      In this picture Max is questioned about his iTunes library and why it contains explicit lyrics,…”Max you must be 18 to listen to these things….”

    6. He looks like some high-school student in a very boring history class that he cannot believe when it will be finished so that he go home and play some F1 on his playstation.

    7. To be fair reviewing telemetry is very boring

  2. Why can the powers at be not see that cheaper prices means more fans at the gate meaning more merchandise sold and more returning fans?

    Because they don’t care. They don’t care about people not attending the race or people not being able to watch the races on the telly without emptying your wallet. The powers just want income from circuits and TV broadcasters, and there’ls plenty around willing to pay, even extra prices for a special, one off double points race. So if places like Baku and Soichi keep appearing (and SkyF1 and others), then obviously the demand is still high, and F1 “can do without” Silverstone, Nurburgring and so many classics, and the free-for-all TV.

    Once the demand for a race goes down, and F1 ends up racing at places with no fanbase at all, with no one watching because the prices are rocket high, we’ll see it return to the classics and free-to-air TV.

    But that’s not going to happen (if it ever happens) in a long, long time. Because the political implications of a race in a certain country and the supremos willingness to extract more money than available keeps the show running like this, and big TV companies want the whole business.

    1. P. Maxwell-Chambers
      17th January 2015, 7:06

      I don’t see why the prices of tickets have to be made cheaper. The state of attendance at Grand Prix is fine as it is and if anything improving. That is in the sense that there is a more meaningful clientèle in attendance. If people can’t afford the price of a ticket or can but feel it some sort of sacrifice, they clearly don’t deserve to be there.

      If I ever decided to attend a race, I’d be far more comfortable having those of my ilk surrounding me. To have those who grumble about prices would bring down the quality of fan and appreciation of the event. And anyway as one who sports multiple special collection only Rolex timepieces and as a valued customer of UBS wealth management services, I feel I do more than my fair bit to keep the sport in rude health and with a fine future. Those others should consider the charity my type provides them for F1 to exist and be followed on internet webs like this one or twittering before grieving about their inability to attend a race they can’t afford.

      1. I sincerely hope that is sarcasm…

        1. @naz3012 me too. What a disgusting comment.

        2. It is obviously sarcasm, hence the UBS and Rolex references. Funny comment!

      2. Are you related to Bernie? Or did he pay you to Mae this post?

        1. LOL ! Well written.
          …Typical chinless wonder with as double barreled name..nothing to see here

      3. Gold ! Lol

    2. @Fer no.65
      Well said. I’ve been saying the same for years. But watch out for the people who justify higher prices and tv fta lock outs. These people need to justify their thousands of pounds spent on enjoying the sport. Most would call them foolish. The more exclusive it is the better it is for them. They will only get to realize their folly when F1 goes tits-up as nobody cares anymore.

      1. Yes, Tiomkin and Fer. If the management wants F1 to be in the same realm of exclusivity of Polo, they should expect revenue streams likewise.

        1. Great comments here, I couldn’t agree more. That mention of polo is interesting. I wonder if the powers of F1 actually want to take the sport down that route. “The right crowd and no crowding” was always part of motorsports’ appeal for some.

  3. I like this idea of F1 drivers dipping over into WEC to do LeMans: it’s good for the sport as a whole. F1 has an entertainment-type image when it comes to it (at least here in the UK) which pretty much cuts it, its drivers and its fans away from the fun to be had with the rest of the motorsport world. Hell, you could get kids who have watched F1 for years being completely unaware that there are other racetracks in the UK than Silverstone (and of course that only opens for one weekend a year before preparing for the next F1 weekend).

    I’m perfectly OK with manufacturers preventing their contracted drivers from doing double-duty between F1 and LMP factories, but I’m very pleased with just Nico Hulkenburg being able to it this year. If Alonso’s eagerness is anything to go by then I imagine quite a few of the privateer drivers will see it as an option next year, and then I think even the Beeb’s media blackout on non-F1 circuit racing could prevent young F1 fans from becoming aware of a non-F1 driving event.

    1. I’m with you on this one. It’s the first time since mid-70s that current F1 drivers are also taking part in sportscar races. Reminds me of Andretti and Ickx driving for Ferrari both in F1 and WSC.
      And BBC is really annoying about its motorsport coverage, writing every gossip about F1 and leaving out some pretty great stuff. Dakar and Le Mans only get mentioned when people get killed (Dakar every year, Le Mans 2013) or when heavy crashes happen (McNish in 2011).

  4. I’m sure they have their reasons, but it comes off as petty and unsporting of Honda to block Alonso from a Le Mans drive.

    1. Maybe the fact that he is officially driving for Honda (McLaren-Honda) and He was going to drive for Porsche? I’m pretty sure the Merc drivers and Ferrari drivers won’t be allowed to drive for another manufaturer car in another series also. Alonso have a contract with Honda, thus nothing unsporting about not being allowed to drive for other manufacturer. Maybe if Honda put something for Le Mans, Alonso would be allowed to drive it. Honda do have a presence in form of privateer LMP2, but I’m not sure a privateer team can afford Alonso and Alonso most certainly don’t want to ride in anything lower than the top class.

    2. @daved Exactly… if they don’t want him to drive a Porsche there, then where is the Honda LMP1 for him to drive in??

      1. They came pretty close to that with HPD in 2011 (car nearly won Sebring that year on its first outing) but were forced to drop out due to tsunami in Japan.

        1. @dujedcv Ah, that’s the one that’s in iRacing.. I’ve driven it. Didn’t realise their program was kiboshed by the tsunami. Since then they’ve obviously focussed on a return to F1.

    3. @daved, perhaps if I ‘were’ Honda, I’d do the same thing. There is nothing to gain by Honda to have their star driver in a different manufacturer’s car, while there might be some marketing damage. Also, Le Mans is dangerous race; you don’t want the guy you just payed 25 millions euros for to sit out half of the season with a back injury.

      Still, Hulkenberg and Alonso in the same team for Le Mans, how cool would that have been?

      1. I would imagine that is one of the chief concerns that Honda would have – for example, only last year we saw Loic Duval being withdrawn from the race on medical ground after crashing in a practise session and suffering from the after effects of concussion.
        We also saw, only a few years ago, Davidson breaking two vertebrae in a collision with one of the GT Am drivers, whilst Webber was somewhat fortunate to get away with his crash in Interlagos a few months ago.

        With the Austrian GP only one week after the 24 Hours of Le Mans, I can see why Honda would be very nervous about letting their star driver compete in a rival series that would give them no advertising benefit whatsoever and would potentially open him up to a greater risk of being injured.

      2. @adrianmorse Webber, Hülkenberg and Alonso in a LMP1 Porsche, that’s a dream coming through.

        1. @adrianmorse
          I realize there are valid reasons why Honda doesn’t want to have him driving (chance of injury, competitors car/engine, marketing, etc). But there are also some good reasons to allow him to drive like the overall marketing exposure to Alonso that might draw other fans back to F1 with him, goodwill from Alonso when it comes time to do contracts later…and frankly just great to see what he’d do.
          But the main point is exactly what @xtwl said: What a DREAM to see Alonso, Weber and the Hulk driving a Porsche at LeMans!

          Too bad for the fans of Motorsport in general, that would have been a blast to watch. :(

      3. Honda and Porsche are not competitors in F1, WEC, or commercially. It’s very hard not to lose the goodwill I had for Honda.

        1. Yeah currently they would hardly be called competitors. But Honda might be trying to change that with their new sporty model @matt90

        2. Honda’s NSX is due for release this year @matt90 and I’d assume that they will be competing for 911 sales. In previous seasons, you’d be 100% correct and I would feel the same as you, however I can understand it this year.

          1. @tthwaite
            I was thinking the same thing. The NSX release changes things a bit this year. SAD.

        3. Honda paid for Alonso to come into McLaren. I can only presume they’re really serious about a big rebranding exercise and embracing F1. Alonso is surely gonna be part of that, and I think it’s fair that they don’t want to see him in another works team as part of their new branding either

    4. I go to Le Mans every year and would have loved to see Alonso race for Porsche. However I can completely understand why Honda have forbidden it. Don’t forget that Honda have their new NSX launching later this year, and you can bet that Mr Alonso will have some marketing duties for that, quite understandably so. Now if he were to have raced for Porsche at Le Mans earlier in the year, and have done promotional shoots and marketing for Porsche, (who will be one of the main rivals for the NSX) then that’s a bit of a blow to Honda.

      1. Just ask team Lotus/Renault about letting your driver race in other series.. (Kubica)

    5. Honda is not being un-sporting. What if Alonso crashes and is injured? Reminds me of another F1 driver who nearly died rallying and is now never going to return to the sport. Honda paid millions to get a great driver, they are protecting their investment.

    6. Or was it Bernie who didn’t want Nando taking viewers away from F1 and Honda just happened to be convenient?

  5. its desire to create a more structured path to F1 for young drivers

    Read “to create an FIA-BE monopoly”.

    1. “As long as the money comes to us, it’s all OK”

  6. As long as the things necessary to run at Le Mans doesn’t interfere with Alonso’s F1 duties, I don’t have a problem with him partaking in the event. But from Honda’s perspective it does make sense.

  7. After Kovalainen’s accident, which more or less ended his F1 career, I’m not surprised Honda weren’t very enthusiastic about Alonso racing for Porsche, mind you one could argue that Alonso might have been more cautious about whether he would do this.

    1. Did you mean Kubika? Didn’t think HK had been injured.

  8. Somewhere I understand Honda their veto. Was it Duval that crashed heavily this year or someone else and he was out for a long time. Racing is dangerous and Honda need this man to get back on top. That said I wish they didn’t veto because I would’ve loved to see Alonso in a Porsche at Le Mans.

    1. Yes, it was Loic Duval who crashed in the practise sessions for the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans and was barred from competing on medical grounds (and I think that he also wrote off the chassis of that car – the fact that Audi were even able to rebuild a new car up overnight surprised a lot of people). In the GT categories, there were also two other drivers who were forced to withdraw after crashes (Calado and Curtis were also both unable to compete on medical grounds).

      Equally, just two years before that, Jean-Christophe Boullion (driving one of the privateer LMP1 cars) was forced to withdraw after injuring his ribs in a practise crash, whilst Davidson fractured two vertebrae in a crash during the race and was out for several months.

  9. Can anyone confirm this ?. According to the BBC Honda will now be allowed to develop their engines during 2015.

    1. Well if it is true then I think that is is the fairest way of appeasing everyone.

    2. Quoting Charlie would seem to confirm. @tthwaite So, if all 3 manufacturers use all tokens before Aussie GP, then Honda can’t make any changes is way I read. Wonder if the 3 will consider this?

      1. Now that I had my morning wakeup medicine, I see this as advantage Honda. Here’s why.

        So the 3 homologated beginning last year. So their engines locked in to some degree. Honda isn’t for another month or so. Then they are locked in with an extra year of development over other 3.

        Now, the fun. So if the 3 decide they need to prevent Honda from having any ability to upgrade thru the season, they have to use most or all of their tokens before start of the season. This will not allow Honda much in-season development. But it also does not allow the 3 any either, so none can make late season development to surge ahead. Which means level playing ground in some respects.

        And of course the reverse is true. If the 3 decide they want to save as many tokens as they can for late season surge, they are giving Honda more opportunity to upgrade thru season too.

        Sooooo, am I getting this right @keithcollantine? Did my morning medicine finally help me understand this whole token/engine/upgrade stuff?? If I am wrong somewhere can someone tell me where I incorrect? I am still trying to grasp it all! :)

  10. I remember reading about Sir Sterling Moss, Fangio and others who raced everything they could. Even though there was no television coverage, one could imagine the skill need to drive a W-196 at Spa then a Maserati 450s at Mille Migla.
    I would love to see some of today’s driver take that on. Then we would a much clearer idea as to who can drive and who is mediocre.

    1. Yeah, but when you pay someone like Alonso incredible money to race for you, you wouldn’t want him to a) have successes with a potential rival and even less risk b) him getting injured racing for someone else @tharris19

      1. I understand and accept that money and investment in talent comes first in today’s F1.
        Just reflecting on some of the qualities that came to accept as what constituted racing driver compared to today’s standards.
        When you reach my age you will understand. Lol

  11. honda should let alonso drive in le mans…hpd p2 car, of course!!!

  12. I am not very surprised by the Honda veto. I am sure Mercedes and Ferrari would have done the same. The only thing I am surprised by is the fact that McLaren did not veto this. They might have have planned the veto anyways but Honda might have reacted a tad earlier making McLaren look a little more liberal.

    I am sure Honda would want to position Alonso with the new Acra NSX. Just wondering if he is allowed to endorse both Acura NSX and McLaren P1. I am assuming McLaren has the first right here just like the Mercedes days before.

    1. McLaren can not say a Word about Alonso, he is a Honda employee.

  13. I would say that E23 called “Hybrid” is to meet some guidelines from the Mercedes brand AMG Hybrid.

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