Red Bull drivers expecting a tight race on Sunday

Leave a comment

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are both pleased with their efforts in today’s practice for the Spanish Grand Prix, despite having lost most of the first session due to wet weather.

This lack of running made testing the new upgrades particularly difficult, but defending champion Vettel believes that this was not too great an issue due to the regulations.

“We have some new parts here but the days of big, big upgrades don’t really happen now with the regulations how they are,” Vettel explained in a team statement. “This afternoon was fairly conclusive, but this morning wasn’t really much good with the weather.”

Despite many drivers suffering from high wear on their Pirellis and Paul di Resta experiencing a tire failure, Vettel does not believe that the strategy taken will be too different to that of recent races.

“It’s hard to say much about the harder tire, I think the number of pit stops will be the same here in this race as at the last few.”

2010 race winner Mark Webber believes that the grand prix will be a tight one, and practice suggested that Ferrari would be challenging Red Bull in Spain this weekend.

“It looks reasonably tight,” Webber said. “We couldn’t have got more out of it today really, the weather made things a bit tricky, but it was a pretty good day overall.”

Red Bull will be pleased to have topped FP2 so resoundingly ahead of Ferrari, but Fernando Alonso’s home crowd could spur him on to challenge both Vettel and Webber during the race on Sunday. With one win apiece in Spain, the Red Bull duo will be keen on doubling their tallies as they look to seize the upper hand in both championships.

Plans for Alonso sports car debut in Rolex 24 gathering speed

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Plans for McLaren Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso to appear in next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona are gathering speed as the two-time World Champion angles for a drive at Le Mans in 2018.

Alonso announced on Thursday he had signed a new, multi-year deal to remain with McLaren in F1, but has left the door open to continue his pursuit of the Triple Crown of Motorsport and become just the second driver in history to complete it.

Alonso has won the Monaco Grand Prix twice and made his Indianapolis 500 debut this year, retiring with an engine issue, and has made no secret of his ambition to race at Le Mans one day.

With no date clashes, the possibility exists for Alonso to race at Le Mans in 2018, potentially with Toyota in the LMP1 class following McLaren’s split with Honda.

However, Alonso could make his 24-hour race debut five months earlier, with reports emerging on Thursday that he could be in line to appear in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

First reported by Sportscar365, Alonso could be set to race for McLaren executive director Zak Brown’s team, United Autosports, at Daytona in January, with no clashes existing with his F1 commitments.

Alonso remained coy when asked about the chances of him appearing at Daytona, but admitted additional preparation for a possible Le Mans appearance would be of interest.

“For the Indy 500 it was a nice experience, I felt very competitive but it was a big challenge that I took from zero, from no testing, not any similar race before it,” Alonso said, as quoted by Reuters.

“If I want to prepare Le Mans, maybe there are other possibilities to prepare Le Mans a little bit better than I prepared the Indy 500.”

He added more about his other race program in Thursday’s pre-race Paddock Pass episode, speaking to NBCSN. “To be the best driver in the world you have to win in different series at different times. It’s possible I can compete in different races next year,” he said.

Brown said he would be happy to field Alonso at Daytona, and confirmed their pair had already loosely discussed it.

“If Fernando wants to do Daytona and we have a seat available, we would put his name on it happily,” Brown said.

“We’ve started joking around about it, and we saw where jokes got us last time,” he added, referencing the eventual entry to the Indy 500.

United Autosports will field two JS P217 cars at Daytona in January, and has already confirmed ex-F1 racer Paul di Resta, McLaren junior Lando Norris, American endurance racer Will Owen and Danish youngster Philip Hanson in seats.

McLaren reserve and 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button had been linked with a drive for United Autosports at Daytona, but Brown confirmed to Sportscar365 this was no longer an option.

“Jenson won’t be driving for us. I don’t know what he’s going to be doing,” Brown said.

“I thought he was going to be in the Penske car. Not sure what happened there.”