Fernando Alonso, Toyota, World Endurance Championship, Spa, 2018

Alonso warns Toyota’s LMP1 rivals are “too fast”

World Endurance Championship

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Fernando Alonso warned Toyota’s non-hybrid rivals will be genuine contenders for victory in the World Endurance Championship Six Hours of Spa tomorrow.

The car he shares with Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima will start from pole position after the sister car was excluded from qualifying.

Toyota is running the only LMP1 hybrids in the race. Despite his car having a 1.4-second margin over their closest rivals in qualifying, Alonso is concerned the competition will be closer on Saturday.

“We saw this morning we were second and fifth [in practice],” he said. “I think the LMP1 non-hybrids are definitely fast. In my opinion too fast.”

WEC operates an Equivalence of Technology policy to balance the performance differences between the hybrid and non-hybrid LMP1 cars. The regulations permit WEC to adjust the relative performance of the two prior to next month’s Le Mans 24 Hours.

Toyota “did a very good job on qualifying to maximise the performance,” said Alonso, who expects their advantage will be reduced in the race.

“Obviously we have a boost and different technology that in qualifying over one lap maybe are OK. But in the race distance [our rivals] could be a little bit more consistent because we cannot drain the battery as maybe you do in qualifying.

“So I think they will be a threat tomorrow that’s for sure. It’s a race that we have to win, not only against the other LMP1, also against the race itself, with all the tricky conditions.”

To prepare for his first WEC race, Alonso watched the entire 2017 event from the cockpit camera of one car, during his flights to and from Azerbaijan for last weekend’s F1 grand prix.

“I watched six hours of onboard camera from car number eight last year. You watch from the outside maybe it’s more interesting but six hours from the onboard is quite long. [It was] just to learn traffic and tricky situations and all things that may happen [from] last year.”

He is also adjusting to life in the WEC paddock compared to the more tightly-restricted F1 environment.

“It’s more modest [but] not more quiet,” he said. “They don’t need passes, the fans, so every time I go to the bathroom it’s interesting. To go in with 40 or 50 people… apparently at that moment they all needed to go for a pee! I think Le Mans is a little bit more restricted in terms of passes for that area.

“But it’s part of the game as well as in the USA, Daytona, Indianapolis, it’s a little bit more freedom for the fans. They are here and they gave closer contact with the drivers and the teams so it’s nice in a way. Maybe because it’s the first race it’s a bit heavy sometimes for us this weekend but I think it’s going to be better.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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12 comments on “Alonso warns Toyota’s LMP1 rivals are “too fast””

  1. Nando getting his excuses in early?

    1. Not excuses, I think sometimes casual viewers fail to realise that Le Mans is an event, not of the competitive sport variety, who wins is pre determined by who paid for the rules, it’s been this way ever since Ford II waved for the start of the 24h race, a decade later it was Porsche who waved the flag. Porsche eventually threatened to quit unless the engines were downsized. The lobbying is like this in motorsport but in le mans for decades at a time it is often unilateral.

      1. Basil (@flyingbasil)
        5th May 2018, 11:31

        Since Toyota is the one who paid this year, what Alonso is saying sounds a lot like excuses.

  2. Not what pretty much every other team/journalist is saying though… Would be interesting if he is right

    1. They might be running conservatively with an engine not at full power to be sure the rules are not tweaked too much against them and they have a better shot at it at Le Mans

      1. Basil (@flyingbasil)
        5th May 2018, 11:30

        I wouldnt count on that…on the first test it was more than 4 seconds….toyota will win easy

  3. The greatest driver ever..who should have been banned for life.

    1. ? He was cleared by the FIA after Singapore and I personally believe he had no clue as to what Flashio and Pat were planning, ( they saw an opportunity to bring out a SC and put Fernando near the front and he drove like a demon to the flag!) ………so banned for life was never gonna happen! I never thought for 1 second that he knew what was going on….he just knew his teammate had crashed and the resulting SC gave them a chance to win. Dont let bias ruin a bold statement though! #:)

  4. Robert McKay
    5th May 2018, 14:41

    I guess he has to try and make LMP1 sound interesting, it’s not really much of a class now.

    Watching the race at the moment there’s the two Toyotas, the two Rebellions are not miles off the pace but they’re not quite a match for Toyota, and the other 2 or 3 LMP1 cars are basically in effectively a different class somewhere between “LMP1” and LMP2.

    1. I dont want to downplay anybodies achievements especially Fernandos, but this is a 3 driver team and not a difficult series for F1 drivers. Fernando Seb and Kazzy could and should most probably win all 6 races this year…..I will be surprised if they dont after all driving F1 previously. As for the “administrative error” over the fuel flow meter and then “holding station after the last pit stop” , its obvious the WEC season will not be too taxing for drivers of a certain calibre. #:)

  5. So fast fast you finished 2 laps ahead of them.

    1. Great name! #:) Its grown on me the 33s livery and lately I keep seeing the colour everywhere! They have got to be bringing an updated car to Barca and lets see the top 8 drivers really competing each other with equally matched cars. Im so hoping PP gets the aero package better and a bit more grunt from Renoo! #:) bebrave

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