Le Mans “way too fast and narrow” in places for F1 – Alonso

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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After his rare chance to drive a Formula 1 car on the track which holds the Le Mans 24 Hours, Fernando Alonso said a race there would be “fun” but changes to the circuit would be essential.

Alonso drove an Alpine Formula 1 car on the Circuit de la Sarthe last weekend before the start of the sportscar race, which he has previously won with Toyota. But although only minor set-up changes were needed for the run, the FIA grade two circuit would require alterations to suit F1 cars, Alonso believes.

“It could be fun for sure to race there,” he said. “I think it will not take too much in terms of preparation or engineering to go to tracks like Le Mans. Even with very short time I think our car was basically prepared to do that demo lap and it was close to a race situation.

“But I don’t know, at those speeds and talking about safety standards probably we’ll have to change a few things on the track itself. It will be way too fast and way too narrow in some of the sections on the straights. So potentially it would require some changes, more on-track than basically from the F1 [cars].”

The Alpine driver revealed the team’s simulation indicated a sub-three-minute lap time would be possible in an F1 car around the 13.6 kilometre track. However actually achieving that time would be very difficult given the many long straights leading into braking zones.

“You’d have to execute the lap and it was not that easy because honestly, with an F1 car, I felt the long straights were a little bit unusual for our tyres, our car,” Alonso explained.

“The braking points after the long straights were a little bit tricky because the front tyres tried to lock up and things like that. So if you really go for it and you push, it will be quite stressful. So in a way, I was happy that it was just a demo lap.”

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2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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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
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    13 comments on “Le Mans “way too fast and narrow” in places for F1 – Alonso”

    1. I’d love to see an F1 race at Le Mans. But not at the expense of destroying one of the best circuits in the world. No thanks.

    2. The long straight is too long for the brakes they cool too much. Changing the circuit is hard as it’s public road so you can forget it they will change it. But they could put artificial corners on the straights to reduce the speeds a lot.

      1. Yeah, they’d probably end up making some form of chicanes to break up those straights.

      2. Oh no, that would be embarassing. It’s somewhat sad because the track isn’t much diffeerent from the great old Hockenheim that F1 still raced on just before Alonso came to F1.

    3. That’s one thing you don’t hear often from a F1 driver. “Way too fast.”

    4. Only the Bugatti Circuit would be possible.

    5. Well, then don’t race there. There really is no need for it anyway – they hold a great race there using other cars.

      Sometimes I fear that F1 is falling into the overly-specialized niche evolution trap.

      F1 can certainly provide great and exiting races, but under a more and more narrow set of parameters of track layout, weather, track temperature, track surface, tyre selection, whatever. Whenever a race is unexiting, there seems to always be some outside factor that has gone and ruined it all. No fault of F1, ‘f course. Oh, no. It is the rest of the world that is failing to adapt to F1’s development.

      Sorry, turns out today was rant Friday after all.

      1. Well said, Bob, I share your sentiment.
        At the end of that road there will F1 drivers saying “I’m not a good car driver, I’m only good at driving an F1”.

        We’re pretty much almost seeing just that in IndyCar this year with Romain Grosjean, who was most successful at the Indianapolis GP track – which was built for F1 – because (by his own admission) unlike most IndyCar tracks, that track is perfectly flat, has no bumps, no difficult corners with elevation changes, doesn’t make the car difficult to handle, basically doesn’t present any challanges beyond what the homogeneous F1 tracks present.

    6. This would be awesome, an F1 race there… I will try it in a sim, just for fun.

      Then again Spa is coming, 7km of old school racing.

      When they chanfe Tilke tracks, maybe they should pick something up from the greats.

    7. Just imagine a race with F1, F2 and F3 on track at the same time, emulating the multi-class racing in LM24H :)

      1. Mate, I’ve been saying this for years!
        Put F1 and F2 into one race, since the track and infrastracture is made for exactly that, and let’s have a special race maybe over a slightly longer distance – 500kms? – where we could follow both categories at the same time!
        It would be great for F1 to have such a special BIG event, just like IndyCar has the Indianapolis 500, F3 has the Macau GP and obviously WEC has the Le Mans 24h.

    8. I imagine the cost to bring the Circuit de la Sarthe up to Grade 1 status would be eye-watering.

    9. I’ll stick to running F1 there in race Sims tbh. No need to disfigure the real circuit.

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