Alonso raves about WEC Toyota after first test

2017 F1 season

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Fernando Alonso said he was very impressed with Toyota’s World Endurance Championship car after testing it for the first time in Bahrain today.

The McLaren driver, who is tipped to enter next year’s Le Mans 24 Hours with the Japanese manufacturer, said he was particularly impressed with the car’s performance over a long run.

“It was a great day,” said Alonso. “Testing an LMP1 car is always a nice thing for any racing driver because these cars are amazing to drive.”

“They are very consistent throughout a stint which is a positive thing. I have wanted to test a car like this for a long time now and today I could achieve that so I am happy.”

Alonso completed 113 laps of the Bahrain International Circuit in the TS050, covering more than 600 kilometres. His best lap time was 1’43.013. The quickest time set by the team during this weekend’s World Endurance Championship round at the track was Mike Conway’s 1’39.517 set during qualifying.

Conway was also among those driving for Toyota today, covering 64 laps. Sebastien Buemi, another of the team’s regular drivers, did a 10-lap run and 19-year-old rookie Thomas Laurent was given 31 laps in the car.

Pictures: Alonso tests Toyota WEC LMP1 car in Bahrain

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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37 comments on “Alonso raves about WEC Toyota after first test”

  1. it must be quite a shock to move from those Pirellis that last nothing (or used to do before this year) into a car with Michelins that last 4 stints at Le Mans.

    1. @fer-no65

      Exactly! The consistency of performance using proper racing tyres would too much fun to drive( I honestly don’t think Pirelli could ever match what I’ve read Michelin can do).

      1. @s2g-unit I bet they can, but F1 doesn’t need/want that.

        1. I really doubt they could. Pirelli have been supposed to produce proper tyres since the new engines, and again with the new aero… The days of designed to degrade tyres are supposed to be over. They’ve failed to make great racing tyres.

          I’d love to see what a new tyre manufacturer could bring and if it would allow the drivers to race harder. Pirelli can’t seem to get their range of compounds right at all, and the temp windows the team needs to hit with setup for them are tiny.

          1. Tristan, there is always going to be some party that will be upset and wanting to shift the way that the tyres are being designed in order to try and favour their chassis, so I am a little wary of accepting some of the arguments at face value when there is a political element to those comments. Horner, for example, outright stated that Red Bull’s car worked better on softer compound tyres in some of his public statements lobbying Pirelli to bring softer tyres for the later races.

            Let’s be honest, it wasn’t as if Bridgestone was having praise heaped upon them for their tyres in the past – there was, at best, indifference, and at worst we had complaints that the races had become boring because Bridgestone had effectively eliminated any strategy from the tyre selection process.
            I expect the same thing would happen if Michelin had entered and went down a similar route – they would probably be praised for a few races, then at best they would be ignored and at worst there would be complaints about the races becoming more processional.

        2. @fer-no65
          I meant to say that I don’t think Pirelli can make a tyre that is as consistent as Michelin WHILE providing extremely fast laptimes. I don’t want a tire war at all but I would put lots of money on Michelin crushing Pirelli.

    2. As I understand it, F1 put out a tender and accepted the lowest tenderer. If the tyres don’t suit the purpose then one should look at the contract to see if they comply with the contract. If they do, then those putting out the tender are at fault, not at the winning tender. If the tyres Pirelli provide comply with the contract, whether adequate or not, then Pirelli isn’t at fault: the fault lies with the contract, which is the responsibility of the company putting out the tender. The only question is do the tyres comply with the contract? Since no one has openly complained for several years then we must assume the tyres do comply with F1s contract.

      1. Imho of course Pirelli can make any tire they are asked and tires every bit as good as Michelin can make. But if you (as F1) want them to be a gadget to try to shake up the processional usual order of things, then the only way you can do that is to use only one supplier. A tire competition would end up with F1 having actual good tires, and then combined with the addiction to aero downforce, you only have the gadget of DRS to lean on in order to try to bandage over the harmful dirty air effect that they haven’t been motivated enough to do anything significant about.

        I too thought they were supposed to go away from thermal deg and toward treadware deg, but I think that was partly just talk to make it sound like they were going to do the right thing, and partly due to lack of testing on actual 2017 cars. The tires can be softer we now know. As to what they’ll do about thermal vs tread deg? Who knows. Hopefully they’ll be a step in the right direction next year now that they have a season of data with these cars.

        The last time Michelin were in F1, they said they wanted a tire competition in F1 because that was the only way tires would be mentioned. If everyone is on the same proper stable tires from one maker, then the tires are not the differentiator and so there’s little mention of the tires in the media and hence no marketing impact. Put a competition in there and even if the tires aren’t the difference, they still get mentioned as it gets constantly brought up which brand of tire which driver is on. With only one maker, the only way tires get a mention is if they are purposely tricky and are a big differentiator. Pirelli would likely be thinking of getting out of F1 by now if their mandate was to make proper tires that weren’t a constant talking point. There’d be no marketing impact for them.

        So until they address dirty air too negatively affecting the racing, we’ll likely have somewhat gadgety tires, unfortunately. I hope for a day when aero downforce is reduced and is overtaken by reliable mechanical grip in the ratio between the two.

    3. What is even more impressive about that is that the Le Mans 24h track is one of the toughest tests of tires anywhere in the world.

      1. mfreire, actually, Michelin and Dunlop have both said that the Circuit de la Sarthe is fairly easy on the tyres: the surface has a low abrasiveness, so the physical wear of the tyre over a lap is low, and the corner layouts and long straights mean that the lateral stresses tend to be lower than the longitudinal stresses, which means that wear rates tend to be fairly symmetrical across all four tyres, whilst the long straights mean that graining is rarely a problem too.

        Places like Sebring or Bahrain, for example, are generally considered to be far harder tests of a tyres construction as those circuits have much more abrasive track conditions, and generally greater extremes in ambient temperature too – the Cicuit de la Sarthe, by comparison, is not especially demanding on the tyres.

        It should also be noted that running four stints on the tyres is something that generally only happens during the colder conditions overnight, and usually only on some cars (I think that, last year, only Toyota could manage it, and even then only for a short period). Three stints is the more usual limit, though in the very hot conditions that have hit the race in recent years that has sometimes gone down to double stints (mainly where teams were using the softer tyres).

      2. You appear to have confused “Le Mans” with “Sebring”. ;)

        Twelve hours of Sebring is like 36 hours at Le Mans.

  2. I wonder what’s so special for someone like alonso in driving a car that’s 11s off the pace compared to even already slow mclaren honda. I’ve looked at some onboards and those lmp1s are simply nowhere compared to F1 on this track.

    1. It’s not just about speed. It’s about driving dynamic, consistency, whether the car gives you confidence and feels right for your driving style, the tyres etc.

      The Porsche 911 RSR 2017 is a beautiful car to drive as is the Chevrolett C7.R (at least in AC). But it does 1:57s round Bahrain. But I still absolutely love driving it. It’s my go to car currently on AC

      1. Yay on-throttle understeer!

    2. @juzh
      Kid, you have completely lost all perspective.
      LMP1 cars are unbelievably fast! They’re faster than most cars you have ever heard off! They’re so fast, your knees would melt if one drove full speed next to you. They are faster than all sports cars and even all super cars like those LaFerrari’s, Lamborghini Aventadors etc. The would literally annihilate them. They are RIDICULOUSLY fast.

      It’s just that Formula 1 cars are the fastest racing cars ever and a bit faster than them.

      Warren Buffet with his $75 billion is not suddenly “nowhere in wealth compared to Bill Gates” only because Gates has $86 billion.

      “compared to even already slow mclaren honda.”
      LOL, that’s like saying Mark Zucherberg is poor ($56 billion). A Eurocup SEAT León couldn’t be considered slow, since it has 350 horsepower and would out-race most cars you ever get to see on the streets (!). But you’re calling one of the fastest cars ever built in the history of mankind slow?
      Kid, get some broader perspective.

      1. LMP1 11 s off pace ;)

        In the race F1 lead cars were racing at 97s down to 94s per lap. That being lead cars that were doing 97s at the start, McLaren likeley were doing 98s, or even more… All the time managing the engine, “Driving within, looking like idiots” to quote Fernando… Then there is LMP1, 104s of flat out racing, pushing every corner to the limit, for 100+ laps.

        Essentially 6-7s difference in pace, but worlds apart in actual driving pleasure. Fernando remember still races carts to get his racing addiction going,… He is raving about LMP1 because he is able to push the car to its limits lap after lap, without watching over the power unit, babysitting tires and dreading the impending engine de-rate.

        Sure F1 is faster, but is it a better racing experience for the driver?

        1. Less pace variation is the only thing lmp1 is better at than F1. As for the derates, I suggest you look at some published onboards over on wec lmp1 youtube channel. LMP1s derate already at half the straight distance on most straights and their top speed against F1 is abysmal, not to mention LMP1 cars require 10 times the amount of lift and coast in order to regenerate the battery via mgu-k. I thought lift and coast is something alonso wants to get away from?

          Check this race sim lap:
          amount of lift and coast is disturbing quite frankly.

      2. why so mad? I’ve not lost any perspective mate at all mate. If you want to know, even GP2 (or formula2 as they’re not called) cars are faster in bahrain than lmp1s:
        GP2 pole: 01:38.907
        LMP1 pole: 1’39.517
        Based on that, super formula is another racing series that’s faster than lmp1s, since it’s faster than GP2.
        Yet alonso is in no hurry to jump back into any of those categories now, is he?
        LMP1 is the most overrated racing category probably ever imo. Even manufacturers realised it’s a pointless excercise because it simply does not attract enough viewership.

        1. @juzh
          “If you want to know, even GP2 cars are faster in bahrain than lmp1”
          Firstly, they are not (as proven by yourself). Secondly, mate, you keep falling in the same trap over and over again. Do you know what kind of beasts GP2s are on a global scale?!? It would blow your mind! It is the very top of the top when it comes to fast cars on the entire planet Earth!

          “GP2 pole: 01’38.907
          LMP1 pole: 01’39.517”
          Look! They are equally fast! The LMP1 beat most of the GP2 grid! It would take 3-4 minutes in my car to make that lap.

          By your way of thinking, on many occasions this and past years, Formula 1 consisted of 2 F1 cars and 18 cars that should’ve been classified as something else.
          It is not 1 car that defines a racing series, but the entire field. This years Haas is as much Formula 1 as the Mercedes. They both represent the pace of Formula 1.

          1. Alonso has driver 2005 V10s, 2006 tire war V8s and he has driven 2017 F1 cars. 3 of the most extreme F1 cars ever produced. You can’t possibly compare regular man’s perception of speed to that of alonso. It’s flawed argument in itself. Yes, for any of us, GP2 and LMP1 is incomprehensigly fast, but not for probably the best driver of the grid. Even last year alonso was talking about how F1 cars are slow (though they were still miles faster than lmp1), yet he’s somehow content with snail’s pace of lmps (relative to f1)? Yeah, sure.

            The fact that 100 times more expensive lmp1 car can’t even beat GP2 in ultimate pace is embarrasing. And yes, 1.38 is faster than 1.39, unless you can’t count.

    3. @juzh Judging by your profile pic, I come to the conclusion you’re a troll.

    4. F1’and LMP1 Cars are not really comparable because the LMP1 cars weigh about 200kg (440 lb) more than a current F1 car- which effectively is a huge handicap that realistically can not be overcome.

      What is particularly astonishing about the LMP1 cars is how quick they get up to the three digit speed range. The acceleration of those cars out of a slow corner is quite simply astonishing. I was at Le Mans this year standing at Mulsanne corner taking shots of the cars and I found the LMP1 cars harder to photograph because over the first quarter mile of the straight after Mulsanne those cars were instantly 30 mph faster than the LMP2 cars- and if those cars did not have a hybrid system they would be 5-10 mph faster out of corners than the LMP2 cars. And after that they would take the right hander at the end of that straight (which are country lanes used by everyday traffic) with those two kinks (the one before Indianapolis corner) at 175 mph (280 km/h)- in race trim. Unbelievable. The only thing that even approached that level of spectacular-ness that I’ve seen in sports car racing is at Daytona, being mere feet away from the cars as they came off the super high NASCAR 4 banking (with only the catch-fencing separating spectators from the cars) and at Sebring, watching Peugeot 908’s go through the super-bumpy Turn 1 and being mere inches from the wall and at other times lapping slower cars while doing so.

      1. F1’and LMP1 Cars are not really comparable because the LMP1 cars weigh about 200kg (440 lb) more than a current F1

        Cost of being a hybrid car.

        What is particularly astonishing about the LMP1 cars is how quick they get up to the three digit speed range.

        three digit speed is child’s play for any racing car. Yes, they have great traction because they’re awd, but their acceleration above 250 kph is weak.

        1. Cost of being a hybrid car.

          Uh… current F1 cars *are* hybrids.

  3. Am I the only one who thinks it is a bit misleading to post Conway’s qualifying time given that the lap times being set during this test are consistently slower than the qualifying session? When he was driving in the afternoon, Conway’s best lap time was a 1m42.381s lap – that seems like a fairer comparison given it would have been in more similar conditions.

    1. exactly my thoughts

    2. Am I the only one who thinks it is a bit misleading to post Conway’s qualifying time given that the lap times being set during this test are consistently slower than the qualifying session?

      I don’t necessarily agree. The fastest time of the test was a 1:40.2 by Bernhard, just 7 tenths off the pole time, indicating that the track conditions were indeed comparable.

      Now, with at least a few years’ experience of following F1, most of us probably know that testing usually isn’t about bolting the fastest tyres on a car with low fuel to simulate qualifying runs and improve the best lap time. Especially not when it’s a driver’s first outing with a car of that category. Especially not in Endurance racing, where outright pace, while not negligible, is definitely not as important as it is in F1. Therefore, I don’t think anybody will be surprised that Alonso’s best lap time is a couple of seconds off the reference set in qualifying.

      In my opinion, the pole time is a useful reference, as it showcases the upper limit of what these cars are capable of. The fact that Alonso was able to lap within 3.5 seconds of that lap time while driving that car for the first time, most likely not even chasing after the fastest lap time, shows us that he’s definitely in the same ballpark with the best Le Mans prototype drivers. Whether he’s already on par with them, is of course an open question. The fact that pole sitter Mike Conway was less than 7 tenths faster in the same test session, is less revealing in that respect, as there’s absolutely no way to tell how his testing routine affected his lap times.

      1. yeah the lap times are probably not especially meaningful. it’s also worth remembering that many drivers in sports car racing are absolute demons so we shouldn’t expect alonso to turn up and blow them all away. i may be wrong but my general impression is that the driving standard in WEC is significantly higher, at the sharp end, than in indycar.

      2. But if you had read about the testing you would know that Toyota, as they often do, ran most of the testing with full tanks to start each stint. So the current day times are a more accurate representation of the lap times relative Conway than what Bernard could do in a we’re shutting this thing down go have fun session with a different car. Porsche was likely only there as they had to be and already had it on their calendar. Might as well have fun before the car is put away, and it didn’t win so no point in keeping it as raced like their LM winning cars get treated, full lacquer coating to preserve all of the road and debris in the body work before storage/museum.

        1. @ Ex F1 fan

          But if you had read about the testing

          Oh look, an irreal conditional phrase based on a faulty facticity presupposition …

          You’re saying that I didn’t read about the testing, but I did. The conclusions I reach are still very different from yours. Why? Because “the fact that Toyota […] ran most of the testing with full tanks to start each stint” does not lead to the logical conclusion that they never ran with low fuel and fresh tyres. Considering that a single run like that would suffice to supersede all lap times posted on long runs, and that we have no reliable information as to whether or not Alonso did any qualifying simulations, there is no way of knowing how his best lap time compares to what an LMP1 regular could’ve done under the same circumstances.

          And as for:

          So the current day times are a more accurate representation of the lap times relative Conway than what Bernard could do in a we’re shutting this thing down go have fun session with a different car.

          They’re not, for the reasons stated above. They look plausible in that they’re very similar, but since they’re circa 3 seconds off the fastest lap times those cars are capable of, there is no way to tell how much of those 3 seconds were up to the driver, and how much time was lost due to the condition of the car. We can’t safely exclude that Conway gave it 100%, but lost time due to fuel load and tyre wear, while Alonso posted his best lap time under qualifying conditions, but was 3.5 seconds off the pace. It sounds implausible, but the truth could be anywhere between that extreme and the other extreme, i.e. Alonso lapping at the same pace as the best LMP1 drivers would’ve done with the same car under the same conditions. This kind of uncertainty is Testing 101.
          Also, I did not compare Alonsos’s lap time to Bernard’s “we’re shutting this thing down go have fun” run in a different car. I compared Bernard’s lap to Conway’s pole lap (in a Toyota) to Bernard’s quickest lap in testing for the sole purpose of establishing that the track was indeed as fast as it was during the race weekend.
          The reason for using the pole position time as a baseline for a comparison, just like the article does, is stated in my first comment.

          You alleged that my reasoning was faulty because I wasn’t informed. Unless you have unequivocal evidence for that, don’t do that. Just don’t.

  4. Fernando is happy

    Whats wrong with this picture McLaren ?

  5. Sundar Srinivas Harish
    19th November 2017, 23:35

    I wonder if the FIA would allow Daytona prototypes to compete in the 24 hours, since the LMP1 stables look a bit… empty. Then we could see Montoya and Alonso on the same track yet again! :D

    Or hopefully Penske start a LMP project alongside their DPi project.

    1. OMG – wouldn’t get any better than Montoya and Alonso racing together!

    2. The ACO has already stated that they will not change their regulations to allow the Daytona Prototypes to race at Le Mans, so it’s not going to happen.

      Even if it did, the problem is how exactly they’d fit in to the rest of the field. They are based on an LMP2 chassis, but can’t race in that category as the ACO will not allow them to use the DPi bodywork (since they have not been performance balanced against the other LMP2 cars), and the ACO is also insisting that they would need to use the same electronic systems as the other LMP2 cars and have their engines performance balanced against the Gibson V8 that is used by the LMP2 cars.

      An alternative suggestion had been to let them race in the privateer LMP1 category, but there are questions over whether they’d be successful because, since they share the same chassis as an LMP2 car, they also run at the same minimum weight of 930kg, putting them at a significant weight disadvantage (the LMP1-H class can run at 878kg and the privateers at 833kg). Some of that disadvantage could be removed if the cars are ballasted up to that minimum weight, but even so they are likely to be overweight for that class and therefore probably slower than the privateer LMP1 cars, let alone the factory cars.

      Furthermore, with the departure of Porsche and Audi – the two teams blamed for stoking most of the cost inflation in the P1 category – there are now multiple privateer entrants looking to enter the LMP1 category, which might mean that, if anything, the LMP1 category could become larger in the upcoming season rather than shrink, raising the question of whether the ACO needs to invite the DPi cars in the first place.

  6. Yeah, kinda like Alonso driving Indy500 last season.. This year will be Le Mans..

    I wish I could have been a fly in the cockpit, watching how Alonso adjusts to the new Machine. I would pay many euros to see that.

  7. I live in central London, and all I know is that Mike Conway has one heck of an operation underwriting him. I am convinced that “Conway” just sends in 50 men and 10 pieces of heavy construction equipment, digs up the roads and sidewalks, repaves it all and lays shiny new curb-stones, and sends the Council a massive invoice, all without any contract for work.

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