Exciting times at Le Mans as F1 star Fernando Alonso commits to WEC series
McLaren
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Jan 2018   |  5:01 pm GMT  |  146 comments

“This year, I have the chance thanks to McLaren to race for the win at Le Mans. It is a big challenge – much can go wrong – but I am ready, prepared and looking forward to the fight.”

With these words, two times F1 world champion Fernando Alonso confirmed the worst kept secret in motorsport today when he committed to race for Toyota not only at Le Mans but in their World Endurance programme.

The 36 year old will combine an F1 season in a McLaren Renault with a WEC programme that starts at Spa 6 hours in May and takes in two 24 hour races at Le Mans. He tested Toyota’s hybrid Le Mans car in Bahrain at the end of last season.

He will do as many WEC rounds as he can, but will certainly miss the Japan round on Toyota’s home track at Fuji, as it clashes with the F1 Grand Prix at Austin, Texas.

It’s exciting for motorsport fans as Alonso continues to break the mould of a modern F1 driver, after contesting the Indy 500 last season and Daytona 24 hours last weekend.

It needed his main employers McLaren to agree to it, but one senses that this wasn’t any kind of problem,

“It’s no secret that Fernando has wanted to contest the Le Mans 24 Hours,” said McLaren boss Zak Brown.

“And I think everybody within our organisation appreciates that a motivated, hungry and happy world-class driver such as Fernando is a formidable asset for any team in F1.

“We’ve always said that we would consider each opportunity on a case-by-case basis, and we both know that, in 2018, our core priority is success in Formula 1.”

Toyota has confirmed that Alonso will race their number eight car with Formula E and WEC champion Sebastien Buemi and ex Williams F1 racer Kazuki Nakajima.

The most recent success for an F1 driver was Nico Hulkenberg’s win at Le Mans for Porsche in 2015. It was the first win for an active F1 racer for 24 years.

Alonso wants to win the “triple crown’ of Indy 500, Le Mans 24 hours and the Monaco Grand Prix.

Only Graham Hill has managed it. Alonso has won Monaco but not the other two. Juan Pablo Montoya has won Monaco and Indy, but not Le Mans.

In modern times, the Triple Crown wasn’t really a thing until Alonso dreamed up his quest to conquer it. This is partly to provide motivation after his F1 career veered away from his long stated goal of winning three world championships. Since his double success in 2005 & 6 the third title has proved elusive with McLaren, Renault and Ferrari. Time is ticking on his F1 career and younger stars have come through who are more likely to win the F1 championship than him, so the Triple Crown has become a plan and it unites motorsport in a positive way at this time, when audiences are changing their viewing habits.

Alonso’s challenge has certainly proved popular in the USA and he has backed it up with some powerful social media activation. McLaren have been very supportive.

All photos: LAT Images

What do you think of this latest Alonso escapade? Do you think he can win Le Mans with Toyota? Leave your comments below

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1

Honestly this “triple crown” thing is all just smoke and mirrors. It means nothing and it is nothing. You race to win, you don’t race to define and motivate a has been.

I think your correct James to describe this as an escapade.

Brown is going to milk Alonso’s good will value until its bone dry , then dump him.

Alonso should walk away from Brown while he still can. He’s just too trusting of all the imbeciles and wolves in F1 and this is a trait of his that has damaged his career goals.

2

Well Alonso is used to unreliable race cars so he should be well at home at Toyota!!!

3

Personally, I have never been an Alonso fan. I think though he is definitely a great driver he let his emotions screw up his own career in F1. Havings said that, I like his renewed approach to enjoy different types of racing and I commen McLaren for letting him do so.

As for the triple crown, give JPM a chance at LeMans in a competitive car and he should be able to check that last box.

4

Reminds people of the recent NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte. IMSA, which is owned by NASCAR Holdings, sent Alonso to the Media Tour to promote the Rolex 24. How he played with the media and fans during both the Media Day and the Rolex (which the primary television coverage provider used a mix of their normal IMSA staff and two senior NASCAR pit reporters) has probably made him an even larger media star — something motorsport can learn.

5

Assuming Alonso probably won’t be in the hunt for the 2018 F1 championship…

If Alonso finds himself in the lead of the WEC championship, SURELY there will be a clause to allow him to miss a couple of rounds of F1?

Am I right in thinking, if Alonso missed a round of WEC but Buemi and Nakajima competed with someone else they still get championship points?

Could you imagine if this scenario meant Nakajima and Buemi become WEC champion but Alonso doesn’t!

6

For the ones saying that this will wear him out and would be too much in the long run…. Do you guys believe that when they’re not racing they’re just sitting on the couch watching TV or relaxing? These F1 drivers are almost always training in some way or another. Alonso himself is always karting or cycling as he loves both. The best form of training in my opinion is actual practice. This will help improve his race craft even more I believe and would make him a bigger force to reckon with.

7

Many from ‘the old garde’ of F1 drivers, like Alonso, Kimi, Button… have expressed that they would prefer to drive races much more often (like every weekend) if given the chance, and not do all the gym or test drives.
There is no better training for racing than racing!

9

Best luck during 2018 for both McL and FA. Maybe there are others driving F-1 these days who are considering similar challenges. Hulk broke the mold. Great opportunities and challenges are still available.

10

When real men goes racing!
And not something for the many whimps we see today in F1.

11

It almost appears that Mclaren is bending over backwards to retain Alonso. He’s good but not that good. Lando looked quite good in the rain at Daytona.

12

With nearly 50% of the years weekend are F1 races + testing and all the marketing activities on top of those—– i do not think this is the wise move.

There is something called as focus that a driver would likely be missing with all these extra-curricular activities (participating in other series).

And yeah, while Alonso is supposedly one of the best, his success is virtually non-existent in these other series except for all the marketing buzz….Makes one wonder that is he really that good NOW ??? or simply one of the best of the past.

13

This is fantastic news and could really revitalise him, I genuinely wish him all the best.

I look forward to Le Mans every year, the coverage on Eurosport is second to none and I always sit up for the full 24hrs watching it and with Fernando driving this year it should be a cracking race.

For those interested, Jenson Button will be racing in the Super GT series in Japan this year, it’s a great series and highly entertaining racing so have a look.

14

New Formula E race car is out. The one that will go race distance on new 54kW McLaren battery, replacing Williams batteries. Has Halo too.

https://arstechnica.com/cars/2018/01/formula-es-new-electric-car-looks-like-nothing-else-in-racing/

15

Not open wheel, is it? Guess it needs to be that way, because of all the bumping they do because the circuits are too tight.

16

This fantastic news, this could really be good for Fernando and reinvigorate him like it did Mark Webber.

Jenson Button will be racing in the Super GT series in Japan this year aswell so plenty of good racing to watch and see how the drivers adapt to a new discipline, I’m very excited.

17

Good shout on JB in Super GT. It would be great to see a story by JA regarding Button and his new gig.

18

This would be interesting news if he had competition from Audi and Porsche, unfortunately even if he does win Le Mans it will be a hollow win due to the lack of quality in the P1 class

19

Good on Alonso, I just hope it starts a trend. I though the good old days of Stirling Moss, Jim Clarke etc racing anything with wheels were over, hopefully not. Good on Zak Brown and McLaren for letting it happen

20

It’s not been a good start to 2018 for British drivers. First Paul Di Resta not only misses out on the Williams drive but loses the reserve role as well. Now Anthony Davidson loses his drive to Fernando Alonso. It will be interesting to see Alonso’s approach to an endurance race. Some say he finds an excuse to park his McLaren when there’s no chance of a good finish. At Le Mans you can have a problem early in the race and have to drive for hours and hours with little chance of winning. Will he keep fighting in that situation or just go through the motions? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

21

@ Sim 157…well that’s what he and his co drivers did at Daytona. 26 laps down and they were pushing as hard as they could. Alonso is not a quitter but no one in their right mind is going to put up with three. yes three, years of rubbish engines and rubbish results without exhibiting some understandable fits of pique.

22

As much as Alonso is a victim of his own bad behaviour, it is frustrating as a fan to see him without a realistic chance of victory. I believe that over the course of a season, in equal machinery, Alonso would probably win the world title over Hamilton, Vettel and Verstappen.

It’s ironic really that his two world titles were won in a vastly superior car against better drives from Kimi in 2005 and Schumacher in 2006, whilst he has since become the class of the field but been let down by appalling machinery.

23

being able to choose the right team for success is also a required skill as an f1 driver.

24

Where can you watch These races in the Uk

25

Alonso really is a true racer at heart that gives his all in every car, in every race and in any series. Doesn’t race because he didnt want to get a real job, or for the attention being a race car driver brings, or for the money, but only because he has the need, the need for speed in his veins. He epitomises what a true champion is.

Dont normally watch much of the WEC however i will certainly follow it with more interest on hearing this news. Go Fernando!

26

In general I agree that Alonso is a real racer, as are others. They all have dark marks against them though. Some of Alonso’s would include:

– Singapore ’08
– Pleading for his team principal to purposely run his teammate out of fuel
– Insisting on #1 status in his teams
– Suspicion that he parked up at Spa ’17

All of those are opposite to what being a 100% true out-and-out racer is about.

The infuriating thing about Alonso is that he’s good enough that he didn’t need to do any of that. It’s what happens when one is not prepared to allow for even a slim chance of defeat.

Like Nixon winning a landslide in ’72, but gets brought down by a silly and needless cover-up, which ends up costing him the whole shebang.

If Alonso had just concentrated solely on the racing since 2006, is there anyone who doubts that he would be much further ahead now, from where he is?

27

@ Sars…yes, i fully concur with your sentiments. Alonso is the real driver deal.

28

Yes Kenneth he is indeed. Certainly isn’t fake, manufactured or vain like other driver’s on today’s grid.
I note some of the bitter posts on here about the Spaniard come from rabid supporters of a particular driver and i can only surmise its due to insecurity on their part which is all rather childish.

29

@ Sars…How very very true.

30

Fernando Alonso…A racer’s racer. Great to see him put it all on the line for his fans and other interested parties. It is appreciated by this fan anyway.

31

Alonso in a Toyota at Le Mans eh…

If history is Ann indicator, I guess the smart money’s on Renellion and Ginetta then 😉

Joking aside, I wish him all the best. Was great to see him at the D24. Honestly though, I just wish this type of cross over was the norm, and not a big deal.

32
Tornillo Amarillo

It’s exciting for motorsport fans as Alonso continues to break the mould of a modern F1 driver, after contesting the Indy 500 last season and Daytona 24 hours last weekend.

But… has he succeded?
Is all this buzz justified?

33

Yes it’s good that F1 Drivers aren’t in Aliki and that other branches of Motorsport get some attention from this

34
Tornillo Amarillo

For me it is more like looking for any win outside F1 because he cannot win in F1… Hulk style, but Hulk actually won it and he is not a double F1-world champion!

35

@ James….exactly. Although i had to Google ‘Aliki’

36

First of, good for fernando. Always positive to see formula stars exploring other disciplines. But where is the condemnation? Where is the fan and media outcry? Lewis can hardly attend a fashion show without being accused of being distracted. How is possible for Alonso to contest two entire series simultaneously? How can he give 100%, including setup, testing, sim work and team building. Does he have a special “gene” the others don’t possess?

In my opinion the “triple Crown” malarkey is nothing more than soft pillow to alonso’s ego. It’s becoming painfully obvious lewis and Seb have statistically surpassed him with little hope of a 3rd championship. If he wants it so badly, quit formula one. Focus on wec or indy, while freeing up a seat for young lando Norris.

37

hamilton is a much bigger star than alonso that’s why he creates much bigger media waves..

38

But where is the condemnation? Where is the fan and media outcry?

Well…here it is in your post.

39

@ Oblah…..What a bitter post. Why would there be widespread condemnation of a great F1 Driver doing just that …driving? He doesn’t ponce down the catwalk or wear spectacles with clear glass lenses ‘for the intelligent bookish’ look. No, he gets on with his racing, in any and as many different motor racing disciplines as he can find. As he said, keeps him sharp and fit and far better than going to the gym. As for his dedication to the F1 team…don’t you think that they, McLaren, would’ve been satisfied that he can do both series? Obviously you know better……

40

hamilton is a much bigger star than alonso that’s why there aren’t any outcries.

41

I can just imagine what would be said if Hamilton had done this.

It’s nice that we have yours and others’ posts here to compare against in the future.

42

@kenneth Say what you will, but a wdc campaign requires 100%. Not possible with so much distraction. Alonso isn’t contesting le-mans, it’s entire season of WEC. This isn’t hulkenberg 2015.

43

@ Oblah….so you think that the combination of all the executive racing team at McLaren, and Alonso, have erred in their decisions to undertake this program? I’m quite happy to go with their reasoning as they actually know the facts and i don’t. If it doesn’t work so what? Do you think that Mclaren would knowingly put their F1 campaign in jeopardy ?

44

alonso thinks he has no chance of the 2018 f1 championship but i think he can only have an idea after testing.

45

Excellent point! Running a serious Le Mans challenge has got to be more distracting/demanding than attending a fashion show, and partying with your celebrity friends, right?

46

hulkenberg did it in style..

47

i don’t buy into all of it, Alonso is going to every series nowadays, all going phep so far

48

he’s getting paid though.

49

buemi and sato are definately a wnning team when combined with alonso but there is quite a lot of talk around alonso’s extra curricular activities unlike hulkenberg who went in quietly and return with a lot of noise around his victory. i guess alonso is too big a star for that to happen.

50

Nakajima y’mean?

51

yes, my bad!

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