Fernando Alonso, Toyota, 2019

Alonso admits “question mark” over his WEC future after Le Mans

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Fernando Alonso says his future in the World Endurance Championship beyond the end of this season is in doubt.

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What they say

In response to a question from RaceFans, Alonso indicated he may not remain in WEC after the 2019-20 season ends at the Le Mans 24 Hours in June.

I will have to think. There is definitely time to think in the next coming months. Right now I don’t want to get too deep on that. The Indy 500 is going to take all my focus.

For the future it will depend what I do after summer. What other projects that are coming, where I will switch my focus.

The WEC, obviously after winning Le Mans, winning Daytona at the beginning of the year and Sebring a couple of weeks ago, it’s a question mark if I commit to that. Also because it ends 2020 July so it’s quite a future commitment. I have to think and be sure about that.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Aaditya says we should have named Nico Hulkenberg as a ‘Star Performer’ of the Bahrain Grand Prix:

I usually don’t comment on Hulkenberg’s absence from the star performers list when I think he deserves to be there, but he was seriously very good in the race.

Outstanding start, followed by constant and quick progress through the rest of the race. I mean, last year Verstappen was being praised to the moon and back when he started at the back and finished fourth and fifth. Hulkenberg managed 17th to sixth in a midfield car, that is worthy of praise. He was competing against and overtook drivers with cars not too much slower than his Renault.
Aaditya (@neutronstar)

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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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  • 33 comments on “Alonso admits “question mark” over his WEC future after Le Mans”

    1. Having Alonso in WEC and IMSA was a huge draw for many first-time viewers, and him leaving the series will pull them away. I really hope Toyota can convince him to stay on, somehow. Sure, the quality of the field is somewhat diluted by the fact that you’re up against a minimum of 30 something cars, but there are some F1-quality drivers in both series across different classes, like Lotterer, Kobayashi, Bernhard, Montoya, Tandy and Castroneves.

      1. I think WEC currently has more fundamental issues for keeping viewers interested, in so far as they have a premier class that is essentially two categories in itself, Toyota and the other LMP1 teams. (I fear the recent changes to the future hyper-car rules aren’t going to make things better)

        I find it irksome that Alonso projects this sense that he has “conquered” Le Mans on his way to cementing his triple-crown legacy. Sure, he and his team-mates won the race, and he drove strong stints that race, and you can only beat the opposition you’re given, but he did so in the least competitive Le Mans for many a year. Toyota was literally competing against itself last year, and will again this year, and I don’t consider it the same level of achievement as what Hulkenberg and his team-mates, particular Tandy, achieved in 2015 (which was possibly most competitive premier class at Le Mans for many years).

        It’s similar to when he was claiming some of his qualifying laps last year were the greatest laps he’d ever produced, the self-aggrandizing for me actually undercuts what an undoubtedly fantastic and talented racing driver he really is.

        1. Daniel Vary, the hypercar regulations seem to be more of an act of desperation by the ACO to try and draw in new manufacturers, particularly the latest move to try and legalise some road going cars.

          Predictably, Aston Martin have been buzzing around, seemingly because Palmer is now trying to use sportscar racing to generate cheap headlines, but it sounds as if the ACO’s proposals have failed to generate the interest they wanted – only Toyota seems prepared to commit, and even they are now starting to have doubts given that the ACO are yet to formally confirm what the regulations are meant to be in 2020.

          1. Aston Martin have been buzzing around

            LOL, like flies around …

            1. georgeboole (@)
              5th April 2019, 9:17

              Don’t say it…

            2. Honey :)

              (Nooooo, I’m not calling you that!)

            3. @phylyp, the worst part is that the ACO’s efforts to chase after companies like Aston Martin might end up backfiring badly.

              The delays and the recent changes to the draft regulations seem to be antagonising Toyota quite a lot, and right now they were the only manufacturer that was prepared to commit to building a new LMP1 car. Not only might they fail to entice any new manufacturers in, the delays and unwelcome changes to the rules are now beginning to create the risk that Toyota will quit.

        2. The same could be said about Hamilton and his 2014 and 2015 championships. He basically had to beat his team mate to be champion, with the rest of the filed in a different category. Like Alonso at Le Mans. Motorsport is like that sometimes. Its nothing new. Its not the driver’s fault.

          If you put Hamilton in the 2014 Mclaren i doubt he will light the world on fire. And most drivers on the grid would be fighting for the championship in the Mercedes. Even Ericsson.

    2. COTD
      Definitely a great drive. If he keeps this up, there will be a lucky break sometime. Soon we hope.
      Maybe he needs a green driving suit and to get really mad.

      1. @rekibsn – as long as he doesn’t do a Hulk smash, we’re all cool :)

    3. I’m pleased to see that Racing Point’s backers are ponying up for a new factory, and impressed by this commitment. It’s one thing to put in money into a team on an annual basis, quite another to make this kind of a capital investment in a long-term asset.

      This investment will also draw sharp focus to Williams’ decision to stay true to their values, given that Lawrence Stroll had first worked with them, and that Williams could have potentially gone down this road, and with a closer Mercedes alliance.

      Apart from alleviating Racing Point’s space shortage due to headcount, the article also mentions the team intends to bring more work in-house:

      The team’s philosophy has been to outsource much of the construction of its chassis, but the plan for the new facility is to create a manufacturing centre of excellence to bring car build in-house.

      I sincerely hope RP are able to scale their leadership and operations to match these new goals. Sometimes, it’s not easy to effectively and easily switch from a lean and just-in-time structure (necessitated by Force India’s funding issues) to a larger structure – what worked well for a yacht will not scale to a speedboat, even if they both float on water. That’ll be a test of Otmar Szafnauer’s skills.

    4. Physiological Responses of Male and Female Race Car Drivers during Competition

      There was no differences in the physiological responses to automobile racing between male and female drivers. The luteal phase elicited higher physiological responses than the follicular phase, but was not different from the male drivers. Thereby, practitioners should focus on reducing stresses induced by a closed cockpit race car as opposed to the menstrual cycle.

      Oh, I love that last line: “worry about the racing, not whether the driver is a woman, or if she’s on her period”.

      Very cool to see a formal study, presumably one that has passed through appropriate peer-reviews as well. One more arrow in the quiver of those of us who believe women are not intrinsically disadvantaged when it comes to racing just due to their physiological differences.

      1. I’ve seen no one argue that women are hurt by racing. All the arguments are about women’s ability to perform as well as men in car racing, which this study doesn’t address at all.

        1. @aapje I don’t understand where the ‘women are hurt by racing’ sentence comes from. The study looks at Physiological effects, not psychological effects.

          1. This study looks at stress indicators. If women are hurt more by racing, their stress responses might be higher.

            I don’t know why you read a claim about psychology in my comment. I didn’t talk about that at all.

            1. @aapje @Ross “Physiological stress” is an academic term for (some parts of) fitness, which is very relevant to the matter of whether woman are physically disadvantaged in motorsport or not. It doesn’t have anything to do with injuries.

    5. Maybe Fernando should drop off his CV at Haas. By the time he is clear of hie WEC commitments, there may be an opening.
      And on the bright side, he hasn’t burned that bridge yet.
      Just a thought.

      1. Why go to Haas? There is a managerial position waiting for him at McLaren. Zak seems to be hiring more managers than orange paint.

        1. Either way Alonso has a future in motorsport, at the moment I bet if you offered him a competitive race seat and a managing directors role I know which he would chose.

    6. So 10 years ago Toyota could’ve won their first race ever and maybe because of that they could’ve stayed in F1 instead of retiring.

      It’s also 10 years since my one and only prediction game win, the last.not to have prizes given to the winners. My luck!

      1. @fer-no65 I doubt they would’ve continued in F1 even if they had won that race although we’ll never get to know for sure nevertheless.

    7. I thoroughly agree with the COTD.

      Regarding the Sky-article: Yes, he indeed has to adapt and maybe get out of some old habits like, for example, his tradition trademark late-lunges although he hasn’t really had a proper chance to try that yet.

    8. The WEC, obviously after winning Le Mans, winning Daytona at the beginning of the year and Sebring a couple of weeks ago, it’s a question mark if I commit to that.

      I used them and I abused them, I couldn’t care less about the team or if they need me. I will get back to McLaren in order to achieve my other goals, and if they get good, who knows? I put Sainz in there I might take him out of that seat too.

      1. @johnmilk, I think it is more down to the fact that, right now, nobody seems to know what is supposed to be happening to the WEC in 2020.

        The ACO issued their preliminary draft regulations in December 2018, but after the initial lack of interest, they have then tried to generate more interest by offering to allow road going hypercars to enter the LMP1 category. However, it is not clear how exactly that is supposed to work, whilst at the same time the ACO is also getting bogged down in discussions with IMSA about the long proposed attempts to synchronise the regulations between sportscar racing in the US and the WEC so teams can compete in both and the Daytona Prototype category cars can compete at Le Mans.

        Time is running out extremely rapidly for the ACO to finalise their plans, because the new cars are meant to be racing by the beginning of September 2020 – that is less than 18 months from now. However, because of the ACO’s homologation requirements, and because the ACO demands test data in order to determine what the final Balance of Performance will be before the season starts, the teams are going to need to have a car built and ready to test several months before that – probably by around June 2020, which is less than 15 months away now.

        The failure to come to a decision is increasingly antagonising Toyota – they were, up until recently, the only ones who were prepared to commit to the new regulations, but Rob Leupen, the Vice President of the Toyota Motorsport Group, has indicated that Toyota aren’t happy with some of the ACO’s more recent decisions and are now starting to rethink their commitments.

        That is why, at the end of March, Rob stated that, if the ACO doesn’t give them a clear answer on the regulations by mid April, Toyota aren’t going to be prepared to commit beyond June 2020. http://www.dailysportscar.com/2019/03/28/voices-on-hypercar-part-1-rob-leupen-toyota.html

        With that in mind, I don’t think it is so much “I couldn’t care less about the team or if they need me”, but more that he doesn’t know if Toyota are still going to be in the WEC after July 2020.

    9. Honest question for those who have some history watching the sport, as I’ve only really followed F1 since the late 90s. My thoughts went this way from the announcement of the new Force India (RP) factory, which surely is due to Stroll Sr’s money.

      I’m wondering what Lance really expects to come of all this. There seems little chance of the team becoming title contenders (unless they pull off some sort of Brawn-esque coup when the regs change). So, my question: Are there any examples of drivers winning titles or excelling based on their family buying a team and giving them a seat?

      It’s one thing to get backing (familial or otherwise) that gets you into F1 and gets you a seat to start with. We may wish it were more meritorious but getting in requires backing usually. But presumably you only stay in F1, with a really good team that is, if you have the skill. What this Stroll situation seems like to me is that dad is spending a ton of money in order for him to rub elbows with racing teams and rich backers and for his son to drive cars and end up with an entirely forgettable career. I don’t quite get it.

      1. @hobo Niki Lauda bought at least his seat two times until he got to Ferrari. Is Stroll as good as Lauda? I highly doubt it, but I guess that is the example you were looking for, or at least somewhere on the lines of what you asked

        1. @johnmilk – Definitely appreciate the effort, but not exactly. People buy their seats often enough, but when they have the talent/skill/ability to stop paying and move up, great.

          I guess I think there is no way that Stroll moves up from here. I don’t see Merc, Ferrari, RBR chasing him ever, and probably not Renault (though maybe?). If that is a fair assumption, then the only chance he has of success is by the RP team becoming a viable contender. That also seems impossible unless the top teams leave the sport.

          So, how does this play out other than a lot of money spent for a midfield seat and an underwhelming career? Perhaps my question should have been, has someone else done this—bought a team and won—when they weren’t a good driver on talent?

          I’m not trying to specifically trash Lance, but he’s the one with not great results and whose dad bought a team for him. So he’s the example.

          1. @hobo buy a team yes, winning I don’t think so. Even Graham Hill had his own team and retired from F1 because he wasn’t getting the results that he was used to, and even this case is different from what you are mentioning.

            Without talent no money in the world will make you winner, but as I said below I might not see Stroll as a winner, however those closed to him and himself surely think he will succeed. Of course in order to do that he will have to prove himself and be hired by a top team, RP and Williams were just steps in that ladder for him, he got there unusually, especially to RP, but still ultimately that is the goal.

            I understand what you are saying, and the assumptions that you are making, but those aren’t certainly shared by the Stroll clan, I would bet anything that they believe Lance is one of the top talents in the sport

      2. @hobo No, because I’ve yet to see a F1 team that was owned by a relative of one of its drivers that was itself in a position to excel – regardless of who was in the car. The most blatant example I can think of is Copersucar Wilson Fittipaldi didn’t get much in the way of results in the family Copersucar team, for example, but neither did his former-world-title-winning brother Emerson in the other car.

    10. Just a quick addition.

      Sure, I would love to drive a formula 1 car, and race. And if some rich benefactor wanted to make that happen, it would be fun. But it seems very unlikely that anything Jr does will land him a seat in the top 3 teams and doubtful even at Renault. Is he hoping for a front end disaster one race and he sneaks a win? Hoping to collect some points and end up (ridiculously, due to the massive change in points scoring systems over the years) in the top 50 all time F1 points scorers?

      1. @hobo that is a question for a psychologist perhaps. We all believe we are the best at what we do, and that we have the best kids, regardless if that his true or not (in my case it certainly is! see what I mean). The Stroll family have find themselves in a position where they can essentially buy a Formula 1 seat, and they look at the kid, Lance, and see a potential world champion.

        There isn’t really any explanation for it.

        1. @johnmilk – Fair enough.

          To be clear this was supposed to be in the same thread as my comment above but, c’est la vie.

      2. @hobo I think Lance is hoping to be the best F1 driver he can be, and his dad wants to help him. This doesn’t look like it’s particularly convoluted.

    Comments are closed.