The road to Le Mans: Fernando Alonso tests Toyota LMP1 car at Bahrain
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Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Nov 2017   |  7:28 am GMT  |  95 comments

While most F1 drivers are having a quiet weekend ahead of the final F1 race of the season in Bahrain, Sunday saw McLaren Honda driver Fernando Alonso at the wheel of a Toyota WEC car.

The two time world champion had his first taste of the top class of endurance racing with a view to potentially competing at Le Mans.

He covered 113 laps of the Bahrain International Circuit in an official rookie test, setting competitive lap times within tenths of a second of the Toyota works driver Sebastien Buemi.

The 36 year old Spaniard is keen to race at Le Mans and in the 2018 season, although new entries for the LMP1 category are being made, Toyota is the only team likely to be fighting for victory as things stand. The team won the final WEC race of 2017 on Saturday in Bahrain.

He has been helped by Mark Webber (above with Alonso at the WEC race in Bahrain yesterday), the Aussie has also had a hand in encouraging Brendon Hartley’s switch from Porsche WEC team to F1 with Red Bull’s Toro Rosso team

After three tough seasons with McLaren Honda that have yielded very little in terms of results or satisfaction, Alonso is proving something of a mould breaker; trying the Indianapolis 500 and now endurance racing. In January he is set to race in the Daytona 24 Hours for Zak Brown’s United Autosports team alongside McLaren reserve driver Lando Norris.

“We are very excited that Fernando will test our car,” said Hisatake Murata, Toyota’s Team President. “When he visited us in Cologne everyone who met him could sense his enthusiasm and passion for our sport; he is a true racer. We very much respect his interest in different forms of motorsport and it is a pleasure to offer him this chance to drive a hybrid LMP1 car. It will be interesting to hear his feedback on the TS050 HYBRID.”

There is little love between Alonso and Honda and the politics of a driver who is still contracted to a Honda team and whose large salary is partly funded by them, taking the wheel of their arch rival’s car is interesting.

But on the flip side it provides a great boost for the World Endurance Championship, which has endured a tough season with the decision by Porsche to withdraw from LMP1, following sister team Audi’s similar decision a year earlier.

Alonso wants to win the Le Mans 24 hours and the Indy 500 to complete the triple crown of great motor races along with Monaco GP. Graham Hill, Damon’s father, is the only driver to have achieved this. Alonso has won Monaco.

Juan Pablo Montoya has already won two of the three and said on his recent visit to Austin that he had been considering making an assault on Le Mans, so he may get to the triple crown before Alonso does.

What do you think of the Alonso Le Mans story? Leave your comments in the section below

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95comments

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1

Alonso Ichi Ban

2

FINALLY! The change that we all want is coming to Formula 1 to fix everything.

….a new logo?

Exciting!

3

I used to think that beauty was as beauty did but that is about the ugliest car I’ve seen since those old Citroens with the movable headlights.

4

I think Honda need to enter Le Mans and beat his sorry ass.

5

I’d rather see Montoya get it.

6
Tornillo Amarillo

Go Montoya! He should try that.

Good Alonso is trying harder, good energy, even if it sounds like an impossibility to be successful again in F1.

7

Of course we’ve all seen the Macau GP finish by now?

I don’t like to watch these lower formula races honestly. Just reminds me what it could be like with better car design, no DRS, etc.

8

Montoya and Alonso should drive the same car in Le Mans next year!

9

Fernando is getting desperate. Retire already.

Burning bridges, a hallmark of his “illustrious” career. A fantastic driver, and might be a decent human being but he is cancer to a race team. His ego often destroys relationships. Mclaren, renault, ferrari and now honda. Too many instances to be coincidence.

I’ve been critical of Seb’s driving but he’s a fine team leader, who protects the organization even in error. On the contrary, Alonso takes every opportunity to publicly ridicule honda. The same honda, who’s rumored to be paying him 40m.

Sure, they haven’t provided him a competitive engine, but how much is mclaren remains unknown. They haven’t made a competitive chassis since 2012. Even with the class leading PU106a they weren’t 2nd in 2014… There’s a rumor mclaren’s size zero concept forced honda into a development dead-end, which they’re just recently rectifying. With 2018 on the horizon, Mclaren-renault beckons. Finally a “reliable”, “fast” PU…LOL. Let’s see how that goes. No where to hide against, renault (works) and Redbull racing.

As for the triple crown, greatest driver ever nonsense – I think its a joke. He can’t win in f1 due to his poor career choices and all around neediness. It’s nothing more than a cop-out used to massage his ego.

Winning le-mans in a single car competition should be foregone conclusion, then again, toyota will find a way to Dnf, handing the win to a LMP2.

Being a “complete” driver requires more than on track ability. Team building is often overlooked. Seb and lewis have shown, both statistically and practically they can build a team around themselves and succeed. Something severely lacking from Mr. Alonso.

10

oh, and yes, I agree with a previous poster about Montoya, he’s just jumping on a bandwagon, I’m glad his fatness didn’t cripple the 919 when he tested it, I may be fat, but I’m not a professional racecar driver. Montoya better get his butt in gear before Daytona, and speaking of which, I may have to check it out in person this year if it would be possible to meet Fernando (still IMHO the best overall driver in F1, Lewis only wins in the best car).

11

I hope Toyota wins neither of the ‘super season’ LeMans races. You almost have to applaud them for continuing to try, but the last two years they shot themselves in the foot, and IF they win LeMans in either of the two bookend races, those victories will be VERY empty without Porsche and Audi competing, almost ‘*’ type of win. I would love to see Rebellion beat them regardless of whether Rebellion is in LMP2 or LMP1 next year. I would love to see Alonso win it, if that means Toyota has to win the c’est la vie, but I just don’t want to see Toyota EVER win. The idea that the lay fan who may hear Toyota win the race and draw conclusions about their road cars is laughable, 9 out of 10 people that see Toyota on a LeMans race car photo have no idea it is a specialist German-designed and German-built racing machine from Cologne.

12

This is a good move for Alonso.

This is exactly the kind of thing he SHOULD be doing.
I hope he goes the Indy500 again this year; did he already say he would?!?
The move of the spark of freshness he can get, he’ll bring to everything, including F1!

I don’t think he should even stay in F1 ,but if he does, this is good!
The prospect of McLaren being a better chassis with a better transmission than the RB, is a very, very, very long shot.
Let’s not forget that the engine manufacturer has a factory team, too!
They may get the first introductions of upgrades, and RB maybe ‘doing stuff’ to them to optimize them on their own.
So, McLaren will get the least powerful Renault engines in 2018 (everything else you hear/read is lies, for one or another reasons).
The bottom line: Alonso will NOT win the F1 WDC in 2018!
Where can you go next, from there?!?
Could be he was driving one of the top two cars at the 2017 Indy500; why not 2018?
Toyota will have the TOP car in 2018 WEC.
If he was REALLY on the ball, he WOULD go in one or two of the real highlight FE races, too!

I actually want him to do well, and I think this is the best approach.

13

No one will say it, so it’s on me I guess…

We complain about F1 cars being ugly, and they deserve it. The length, the shark fins, the crap on the fins, the halos… After all, we have standards. But these LMP1 cars…my goodness…I hate VW group and their products for that unforgivable dieselgate, but even I must admit that I appreciate Audi and Porsche helping put these ugly things to sleep. This Toyota looks like some type of Photoshop Digital Picasso effect.

14

Alonso is desperate for attention and a victory… please pass on the details for our annual soap box race the weekend after next…

15
Clarks4WheelDrift

Surprised Honda don’t enter Le Mans LMP1.

The Toyota’s retire then they get to take a classic race victory with a variant of their useless engine…

…or maybe Honda aren’t confident their LMP1 car could beat the LMP2’s 😉

Great effort by Alonso, will be watching as with the fantastic Indy effort… the only true racer currently left in F1.

16

hulkenberg hardly told anyone of his le man preparations. all we heard was he was taking part a couple of days before and by the end of the race he’d won.
victory will certainly bring joy to alonso and f1, more than hulkenberg did.

17

At least Fernando won’t be vying for the Triple-Outlet of racing – F1/WEC/FE!

18

If Alonso starts aspiring to win the Index of Performance,
then we know it is over with.

19

Audi and Porsche abandoned WEC for Formula E.

If Toyota has no competition, is a Le Mans victory worth less? I think so.

But maybe history and the record-books will forget that.

20

Slightly different reason, both ultimately about money, Audi left due to diesel gate and needing the cash. Porsche quit because of the ridiculous cost, which is supposedly getting on for Force India budgets.

21

Three tough seasons with McLaren Honda have yielded Alonso little in terms of results or satisfaction…

…but well over $100 million in salary. So don’t feel too bad for him!

22

If you think being a race driver is all about the money, then you have never raced and know little about the motivations involved.

23

Wow, relax dude.

Where in my post did I say being a race driver is all about the money?

It was a bit of sarcasm. Look it up.

24

Toyota will probably enter 3 cars. At which point will the other cars receive the message “the car a long way behind is faster” ?

25

All the best to him. He is in good hands with our Webber.

26

He is desperate to be relevant after more than 10 years since his last championship. First Indy car now this?

27

Hey, we’re here fighting for relevance. The whole world is fighting for relevance on…Facebook.

And his Singapore 2008 jinx is entertaining to watch, we must admit.

28

That’s not me Sebee, that’s the unit pretending to be me.

29

Once you and I are gone, it is great to know someone will continue to represent us in this simulation, and most won’t know we’re gone!

Eternal life for real.

30

If you want to adopt him Sebee then by all means, he’s all yours 🙂

31

Random (no stars), Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father….

32

You should be flattered. At least a human being wants to be you and it doesn’t involve your credit card. Just your F1 interest.

Few more years, and this JAonF1 comment section will be polluted by Microsoft Tay, Apple Siri and Google ChroMolly. Under various names they will exchange comments endlessly about F1 and never be able to figure out who’s right and who made a point in this twisted Formula 1 world.

Pretty much like we do now.

You know, when I put it like that, it makes me want to wrap up commenting with end of 2017. I should!

33

Look at that Sebee, you found a friend.

Now quick, invite him home and lock him away before anyone notices 😉

34

I think only Alonso knows what a triple crown is. It’s no more special to win Monaco than any other f1 race like Abu Dhabi or Bahrain really.

He should be thankful he was the last V10 world champion and retirement. Mclaren will win after he leaves them, but not before. guarantee it my friend.

35

There’s a word to describe what it is Sebee and it isn’t flattering…

36

The publicity around Alonso’s forays into other racing series must surely influence other drivers to branch out. The fact that we now have two LeMans winners on the grid is excellent news.
However, it’s hugely disappointing that the ACO and the FIA have engineered such an expensive set of rules that they’ve reduced the field for LMP1 to one manufacturer. That took some doing !

Surely it’s time for them to realise that there is no point in top class motor sport like the WEC trying to become politically correct, all we will end up with is a field of Tesla look-alikes, taking part in short races in silence !

At least Ross Braun realises what is wrong with F1 and is standing up to the FIA and the manufacturers in order to regenerate the series. We desperately need at least two extra teams in F1 and the rules must be framed so that they are not destined to be permanent “B” Teams.

37

At least Ross Braun realises what is wrong with F1 and is standing up to the FIA and the manufacturers in order to regenerate the series

Is he? What exactly has he done so far?

38

With Sports Car racing it’s not the ACO or the FIA’s fault, whether it’s Group 6, Group C, GT1, LMPGTP, LMP1 and so on the manufacturers will try to win by outspending each other until the cost becomes impractical. The GT1 rules of the 90s were very simple yet Porsche and Mercedes managed to kill the series in two years by building what were little more than F1 cars with body shells.
.
For F1 Brawn (and the FIA, Liberty Media) really need to stand up to Ferrari. The money they parasite out of the series could easily shore up the finances of the back half of the grid.

39

Go Alonso, It would be great to see him take the triple. I wish (forlornly) that the top drivers could switch from class to class like they could and did in the 60’s
But there are two chances, none and buckleys.

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