Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2018

Alonso expects “tough race” at Le Mans

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In the round-up: Fernando Alonso is hoping for the “luck factor” as he prepares to tackle the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time.

What they say

Let’s see. It’s a tough race, our job is team work, it’s a luck factor, there are a lot of things you need to put together in a 24-hour race. But definitely we are there, we are one of the contenders and we will try to execute the race perfectly.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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The amusing thing is, Renault as a PU supplier is currently enjoying the most success – the works team and both customers are all in the top five, with no other customers ahead. On the other hand, the Mercedes and Ferrari customers are the ones lagging behind in the WCC. Renault must be grateful for such well-funded customer teams!

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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90 comments on “Alonso expects “tough race” at Le Mans”

  1. With apologies for the off topic as I just watched the Canadian qualifying and race – why did the drivers that blocked Vettel at the end of his second Q2 lap not get a penalty? He was still on a hot lap then (albeit probably intending to go slightly slower than on his first run) and several drivers did not get out of the way at all despite being shown blue flags.

    1. @mike-dee – good question, I’d all but forgotten about that incident with all the excitement of Q3.

      I don’t have an answer, but can hazard a guess that Ferrari didn’t raise the issue with Charlie, so it wasn’t referred to the stewards. I’m not sure if impeding another driver is automatically noted, or is only looked at if there is a complaint, however.

    2. a racing fan
      13th June 2018, 7:52

      Vettel had no intention to set a serious lap time – to start the race on hypersofts. So ferrari did not raise the issue. Vettel did put up a show on the onboard radio in a hilarious attempt to ‘disguise’ that – although one might ask who he was trying to fool. I don’t think Red Bull fell for it.

    3. Most of the time they don’t hand out penalties if the incident do not effect qualifying – i.e. since Vettel got through anyway it was not something that really caused problems for him.

      1. And who would you blame? From memory the roadblock happened five cars up the track.

      2. But if he had improved his lap, then he would start the race on different tyres. It could have completely changed the race outcome.

        1. It was a lap to test the tyres, he would’ve never gone faster.

      3. Most of the time they don’t hand out penalties if the incident do not effect qualifying – i.e. since Vettel got through anyway it was not something that really caused problems for him.

        This is one of the things that infuriates me about F1 (and a few other sports). you have a set of very specific rules, with, in some cases, clear definitions. and yet, if it is not convenient, they are no applied. I realise that some common sense judgement must be applied, but this ought to be written into the rules.

        I think the worst example was when grosjean took out alonso at the start of the belgian gp in 2012 – the stewards implied that he got a bigger penalty than normal because he took out one of the championship contenders! utterly ridiculous and arbitrary. he should have been penalised on the grounds of dangerous driving, but the other reason is shameful and against the whole notion of sport.

        1. @frood19 – fully agree.

        2. It has always been a huge problem, I have suggested stewarding decisions could be made using virtual video which obscures the identity of the participants, it would give a fairer judgement.

        3. Indeed @frood19, that kind of thinking is exactly the opposite of a fair judgement of every case on it’s merits.

    4. Mickey's Miniature Grandpa
      13th June 2018, 22:12

      I wouldn’t envy whomever might have been given the task of digging through that mess and deciding who to penalise. Maybe best left as is. It did illustrate a problem that needs addressing though – it only takes a couple of what-ifs to go from what we saw there to a repeat of Billy Monger’s accident.

      1. Whilst this is true, the FIA did also acknowledge that there was a cumulative effect on off track/post race penalties for repeat offenders. i.e the more a driver offends the harsher the penalties would get. We saw it with Hamilton a little in his earlier years, I don’t think it really applies anymore as they have the drivers penalty points system in place.

  2. Duncan Snowden
    13th June 2018, 1:49

    Funny how Fernando always seems to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time in F1, but has a bit of a knack of landing good drives in his extracurricular excursions. Andretti-McLaren had a serious shot at last year’s 500, and United are one of the strongest outfits in LMP2. I can see them taking it.

    Looking forward to Martin vs. Button. That could end up being the most interesting F1 race we see all year. ;) (Winky-smiley because, unlike some, I don’t really believe that. But it should be fun.)

    1. In the case of United Autosport, that probably is rather less coincidental when you realise that Zak Brown helps run that team – that would explain why Alonso and Norris were able to get a seat there.

    2. United are one of the strongest outfits

      in LMP2

      No LMP1 but considering Toyota’s luck in Le Mans historically….

      on a more serious note they better not manage to lose it again.

      1. Duncan Snowden
        13th June 2018, 17:53

        I’m a bloody idiot. My only excuse is that it was late, and I’ve got a bit of a sinus infection. I think there was something in my fevered brain about Montoya that either got mixed up with Alonso or didn’t make it from there to my fingers.

        Yes, of course he’s in the LMP1 Toyota and will probably win. Assuming they make it to the finish. (Twice out of 13 starts. Not a good omen.) But if JPM takes the class win with United – which is possible – he’ll have an (almost) triple crown too. It’s not the outright victory, of course, but still.

  3. “Tough race”?!! There is literally NO COMPETITION! None…. Toyota is the only manufacturer team left, and you’re in it for crying out loud. The only way you lose is by mechanical problems or binning it.

    1. A lot can happen in 24 hours. A lot of… unfortunate things. *Devious laugh*

    2. It is a joke really. Two cars racing for the win.

      1. @socksolid – Yeah! Not like F1 where any two cars are following, not too closely, each other for the win.

        1. Unlike F1 though, all the other LMP1 competitors are not even allowed to challenge Toyota. They have longer minimum pit types, are not allowed to lap as fast and have to pit more often.

      2. Lewis’ career at Mercedes until now was the same as Alonso’s at Toyota. Only 1 of 2 cars will win.

        1. Except Hamilton’s first year at merc and this year, potentially you could say the same for last year as well.

      3. The same as F1 then.
        So whoever wins the WDC (HAM or VET) is in the same situation as ALO at Lemans only LeMans is a much harder race.
        get real..

        1. No. Ferrari and Mercedes are 2 teams, not 1. That’s 4 cars that can win a race, not two. Also, both RedBull cars can win races this year too.

          Also, the other car was being told not to overtake Alonso’s car at the last race so that they couldn’t crash into each other and blow the win. WEC is as fake as it gets.

          1. Really….4 drivers can win? When was the last time Kimi won at Ferrari if ever?
            Bottas is a decent driver who wins only if HAM falters…
            So not much difference
            Also much more obstacles at LeMans

          2. @jeffrey

            so that they couldn’t crash into each other and blow the win. WEC is as fake as it gets.

            youve now made two statements that also apply to F1

            Go for a 3rd and hopefully get it right


    3. @jeffreyj, perhaps, but then again perhaps not – in the recent Le Mans test, quite a few observers were surprised at how quick the Rebellion entry was (splitting the two Toyota entries and, if I recall well, holding the fastest first sector times too).

      Of course, there are the usual caveats about testing, especially when Balance of Performance regulations are in play, but if the ACO have balanced the field in the way that they wanted, the privateers might be more competitive than you think.

    4. “only” way you lose. Just look back at how Porsche, or indeed Toyota fared in the last two years with reliability though

  4. Thank you for the COTD, Keith!

    1. Sorry, thank you Hazel!

    2. @phylyp it is a good comment.

      Maybe we should have a third championship alongside driver and constructors. PU championship – all points from a respective PU manufacturer in a table.

      Maybe even win some extra testing days for those teams.

      1. Last thing you want is the best PU getting extra testing days….

      2. @captainpie – yeah, out of interest it would be nice to see a stat like ‘average points per PU’ and probably give the lowest PU manufacturer the extra testing you alluded to (maybe do so only if there’s a noticeable gap, like a 20% difference).

        1. @phylyp rewarding the losers! What new shenanigans that would bring.

        2. @phylyp So everyone will be fighting to supply Williams and Sauber which in the end would bring a financial benefit to them. Not bad.

          1. @flatsix – yeah, it might be a bit naïve, but to me it feels like it would help (rather, would have helped) normalize the PU position quicker, and – as you pointed out – make the laggards a bit more desirable. A bit of a “rising tide lifts all boats” situation.

            I just look back and think that maybe Renault’s PU division could have benefited from something like this in 2014 so they could recover quicker, and maybe Honda too. It’s another question whether we need something like that now, as the PUs are converging quite nicely indeed.

          2. Well I think quite some people would agree with us that Honda would’ve had more valuable data had they had two teams running the engine. Never understood the monopoly McLaren was going for. As long as the second teams was not Ferrari/Mercedes/Red Bull, why bother. Turns out it might soon now be Red Bull and STR though.

            Saying that, how’s their Aston Martin link working then? Aston-Martin-Red Bull-Honda??

          3. @flatsix

            As long as the second teams was not Ferrari/Mercedes/Red Bull, why bother.

            Because they would than likely have been beaten ;) Hehe

  5. Alonso also said today that he doesn’t have and undeserved trophies, maybe refeering to Vettel. Well, to him, just a word: Crashgate. That’s an undeserved thophy and the reason why, no matter how talented, never got my admiration nor support. Tell me about karma.

    1. Then there is all his trophies from from 2007 and the whole espionage controversy between McLaren and Ferrari.

      “McLAren were found guilty of breaching the Article 151c of the FIA’s sporting regulations but went unpunished due to a lack of evidence. However, following the acquisition of new evidence by the FIA, a new hearing was held on 13 September. The new evidence consisted largely of email traffic between Alonso and test driver Pedro de la Rosa.[73] The FIA’s World Motor Sport Council report following the hearing stated that Alonso and de la Rosa had obtained and used confidential Ferrari technical data and sporting strategy information from senior McLaren engineer Mike Coughlan via Ferrari employee Nigel Stepney, including during test sessions. Both drivers were spared sanctions in exchange for providing evidence.”

    2. Jonathan Parkin
      13th June 2018, 12:39

      I’m of the opinion that Fernando didn’t actually know about Crashgate. He was certainly surprised when his lowly grid position resulted in a win. I believe he did say at the time he didn’t know anything about it if I remember correctly

      1. You have convicted him without proof. Wouldn’t want you on a jury.
        Karma you say? Forty million a year, 2 WDC’s, the most respected driver on the grid and his own brand (KIMEO).
        I’d take that karma anyday.

      2. Who arranged the 2nd safety car? to give Vettel and Hamilton a chance against Alonso? to no avail though

      3. He knew.

      4. Sorry, but he lined up 15th on the grid and was put on a two stop strategy on a track where overtaking is difficult. Maybe he wasn’t told explicitly what his team had planned for him, but unless you’re incredibly stupid or have never followed F1 before (neither of which apply to Alonso), that strategy makes no sense. Indeed straight after the race, many drivers questioned what had happened although none said so to the media because of how absurd the whole thing was. Massa went straight up to Briatore and asked him if he gotten Piquet to crash on purpose.
        In short – after he crossed the finish line in first place, Alonso must’ve known what had just happened. It was far too coincidental for him not to.

    3. After the second safety car at Singapore Alonso again totally outdrove Vettel and Hamilton in that race. He might not have deserved the trophy but was far the best driver in the 6th best car as well. He continued to outscore Lewis for the rest of the season. Ironically Massa deserved the 2008 title way more than Lewis but was the real victim of crashgate. Take away Alonso’s trophy and give the title to Massa.

      1. I don’t know who you think you are fooling, but due to al kind of circumstances, Rosberg in his Williams was second. By now means was that Williams a quicker car then the Renault of Alonso. He didn’t “outdrove” Rosberg, he just beat him by a little more then 2 seconds. Hamilton was third, not pushing to pass as his only championship contender, Massa, was outside the points. Vettel was racing a STR in 6th, so whatever Vettel has to do with it, I don’t know. Alonso would have been lost without that SC, as it was put at the exact right time for his pitstop, using the rules that cars had to wait for two laps to pit.

        I don’t believe Alonso dit not know a thing about it. It means he willingly took a bad strategie (short stint on a street circuit where overtaking without DRS would always be difficult) because the team asked him, knowing full and well that everybody else in his position would have taken a heavy fuel load and then go deep in to the race.

      2. Pfffft Massa deserved that 2008 crown the least of all. All year Alan Donnely had been busy penalizing Hamilton for ridiculous “offences”. Only after it became apparent that he was a contractor who worked for Ferrari did they end his death grip on F1 stewarding.

        It was almost as bad as the height of the FIArari era when the FIA went against their own stewards to aid Ferrari.

    4. never got my admiration nor support

      Like Fernando or anybody else cares about them

    5. Mickey's Miniature Grandpa
      13th June 2018, 22:29

      If you actually watch the interview it’s pretty clear Alonso was answering a question about whether he was bitter about just missing out on the title in ’10 and ’12.

      As for Crashgate, none of us knows what he knew, if anything. Maybe one day he’ll release an autobiography and fess up. Until then, innocent until proven guilty. End of.

    6. his little wave at Petrov end 2010 says it all

  6. Here’s a nice – albeit brief – summary of the 2019 aero changes: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/technical/2018/6/tech-tuesday–2019-f1-rules-spice-up-racing.html

    Interestingly, to move away from an outwash philosophy, the front wing gets wider (full width of the car). To me, the only part I don’t like is strengthening DRS by making the opening larger.

    1. Strenghtening DRS is a good move. It’s a valuable tool and will allow them to tweak it to be more useful.

      They can easily shorten a zone or adjust the activation gap to make DRS weaker to prevent cars blasting by… But currently they have no way to make DRS stronger other than increasing a zone length, or adding another zone which doesn’t work on tracks with short straights as we’ve just painfully seen.

      It just gives them a better baseline to adjust from. It doesn’t mean DRS will always be stronger and a blast by (although may be closer to that.)

      There should be no denying now honestly that DRS is a workable system. The racing it’s provided so many times now when it allows a following car to get along side but not breeze right by has been very enjoyable. It’s not just a push to pass when configured correctly.

      1. They can easily shorten a zone or adjust the activation gap to make DRS weaker to prevent cars blasting by

        @skipgamer – that’s a very good point, and that does make me feel much better, since it gives the FIA more leeway in defining the DRS benefit. The FIA have already shown a willingness to tweak the DRS zones this year, so hopefully it all plays out the way you’ve mentioned.

  7. Why can’t Liberty just take up that Weehawken project that was proposed in 2011? Surely they must know about it; there are already pit garages there that are underneath a parking garage. That circuit proposal is just too good to pass up.

    1. @mfreire ”there are already pit garages there that are underneath a parking garage.”
      – Are there really? I doubt it to a certain extent.

      1. Yes, there are. I live in New York City and I have been to that site many times. The backdrop is every bit as spectacular as it looks in any video of that circuit. In actual fact those garages are part of that parking garage. The spaces are currently up for rent; but that’s not really a concern as the actual architecture is still the same inside the garage. And the first half-mile of the track will have to be changed a little bit because there are now apartment towers being built there.

        1. @jere *and those stores can be removed quickly and easily to make room for the teams. And the way the first floor of that parking garage is designed, it can house the teams’ trucks and storage easily.

  8. Off topic, but interesting. Liberty’s copyrights attorneys didn’t perform sufficient due diligence.

    1. That news is from Jan ’18, and IIRC it was already covered (if not as an article, in the comments about the logo).
      That said, there’s been no news of this since then, so I’m not sure if its been amicably settled or is still a point of dispute.

      1. I read an update on this today, it seems they are opposing it:

        1. @aliced – many thanks for that latest update, a shame it wasn’t picked up in yesterday’s round-up. It will be interesting to see if Liberty agree to pay a fee to 3M to use it, and how Liberty then take that back to the design bureau who made the new F1 logo.

          1. The company that made it, at least the group of people, did a crap job on the logo as it was. Now we know they ripped off a pair of tights makes it even worse.

            Just a terrible job by everyone all round really. I don’t feel any hope that Liberty can improve F1 if they can’t get something simple right. This is a conpany that’s trying to get Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull to agree on a lot of things to help F1!

          2. BMF66 – I think Liberty will get some things right, they’re willing to spend time and effort in investigating and addressing items like on-track racing, equitable prize money distribution, etc.

            However, Liberty also tries to move too fast in other areas, either to make their mark, or to be seen doing something, and cases like those with aggressive deadlines are the ones that are not going down smoothly – the new logo was a bit of a rush job, to ensure that Liberty didn’t end up own F1 for a year and not put their mark on it in a noticeable way, F1 TV was another item they wanted to roll out to aggressive timescales, and that is again turned out to be plagued with issues.

    2. Mickey's Miniature Grandpa
      13th June 2018, 22:34

      I totally confused a manufacturer of office stationery for an international racing series. Now i know why I received a lorryload of paperclips instead of tickets to Silverstone. Somebody needs to put a stop to this.

  9. The 24hr is tough, but not really for Toyota. Being the only hybrid entry they are the only LMP1 cars to get a 1 lap advantage on the field (set in the rules!). Being able to to stop less over other competitors is crucial at Le Mans. The less time in the pits generally wins the race.

    I was there when Toyota failed on the final lap, so I want them to do well. But when they are the only LMP1 Hybrid in the race, I’m just not impressed. Therefore, if any other LMP car \ team can win I’d be over the moon. This won’t stop me watching the race though. You can’t beat Le Mans for the stories and struggles of each team trying to make it to the end.

  10. That’s an interesting statistic that there haven’t been two or more races in a row in which the polesitter has led from start to finish before. I never really noticed that.
    – I agree with Brundle.

    1. Yes to both of these as well.

  11. This c4 link has a great stat. Leclerc is one point from zqual scoring to the whole career of ericsson

  12. I’m fairly vocal I hope both Toyota’s do not finish. Three privateers on the podium would do the sport a lot of good too.

    1. not really the sport isn’t in great shape it’s going to be completly revamped soon. Theyve already added regulations to slow Toyota down.

    2. @flatsix Trouble is, with no others giving direct competition, Toyota can afford to turn the cars down a bit and just run the race at their own pace. I think it’ll take one or more privateers running the cars on short stints at a mega pace to try and force the Toyotas into blowing up. Which is a pretty old skool approach to Le Mans, running cars at a sacrificial pace to try and break a faster car. I really don’t see it being an easy comfortable victory for Toyota, especially with just two cars.

      1. @mazdachris The issue I see is that one ‘not-Toyota’ has a shot at an overall podium, and that’s going to be their aim.

        1. Ooooh could you imagine if Jenson sneaked in and ‘Stole’ the 2nd part to Alonso’s triple crown! Now that would cheer me up about it all.

  13. Alonso asking for luck… If he had any luck it would be bad luck. So having luck in his case might not be to good.

  14. I cant’ understand the comments in some kind of fear or resentment that Alonso is going to win. The other car has more experience and posted quicker times at Spa. Alonso’s car will be 2nd if Toyota has a straighforward 24 hours.

    1. The whole point of this race is so Alonso wins.

    2. His detractors either want him to lose or cheapen the accomplishment if he wins.
      Not many Alonso fans on this site for obvious reasons.

    3. Well, you said it the other car posted quicker times. You forgot to aid that they were told not to attack Alonso. That’s the problem.

      It’s just like Monaco 2007 again, where Alonso had to be constantly aided (or rather the other car held back) to help him win the race while actually being the slower driver.

      I can’t understand how anyone would be supportive of that. It’s like a bought football match.

  15. The Jolyon Palmer column. That’s really something I can’t miss, really looking forward to read his opinion about Alonso. Haha, uh, no.

    F1 driver Jolyon Palmer, who left Renault during the 2017 season, has joined the BBC team to offer insight and analysis from the point of view of the competitors.

    Yeah we remember when he “left” Renault. I’m glad he found a job, let’s hope he can perform above the minimum acceptable level so he doesn’t get fired halfway through the season.

    1. Palmer covered a lot of points regarding McLaren’s performance this season, comparing it with their effort last year. The best way for McLaren to answer critics such as Palmer is by producing some good results. Maybe the Circuit Paul Ricard will be better suited to McLaren’s car than the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was.

    2. Mickey's Miniature Grandpa
      13th June 2018, 22:48

      A bit unfair, maybe? Nico Hulkenberg’s a hard act to follow, always been underrated, only reason he’s not in a Ferrari is because he’s too tall. (He didn’t choose his race number at random.) Doing a pretty solid job against highly-rated Sainz Jr too.

      Yeah OK maybe Jolyon wasn’t going to set the world on fire and win multiple championships. But given different circumstances he could at least have been a solid second driver for a top team for many a year. There but for the grace of Spock go Berger, Massa, many others.

  16. Kimi is still fast. The problem is he kept missing apex when it matters! It’s really frustrating to watch…
    If the same thing happened to Verstappen it already be a wave of outrage…

  17. Tough race basically racing his teammate. World’s greatest Y’all.

  18. Is Alonso allowed to drive at night? He does not have any experience, does he? Or is there a waiver for platinum-class drivers?

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