Second place “like a victory” for Alonso

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Fernando Alonso has said that finishing second to Sebastian Vettel in today’s Singapore Grand Prix felt “like a victory” given that the Ferrari F138 car had been off the pace all weekend, with the result minimizing the number of points lost to the defending world champion in the title race.

Having qualified seventh, Alonso made a great start to lie P3 before the safety car came out that allowed Daniel Ricciardo’s stricken Toro Rosso to be recovered. The team took the decision to pit and then try and go to the end of the race on the same set of primes, with the strategy working for Alonso despite it being difficult to manage his tires.

“It was not easy obviously,” Alonso said after the race. “We had a strategy when we pitted under the safety car and we were controlling the pace all through the last stint thanks to the gap that we manage to build.”

Under the safety car, Ferrari opted to pit Alonso whilst Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton all chose not to stop, with the trio all missing out on podium positions as a result. The Spaniard explained how the decision was taken in order to try and secure a place in the top three given the car’s lack of pace.

“We were third which was already a good result for us but when we didn’t see Rosberg pitting in under the safety car we decided to pit and to try something different. We were too slow this weekend, we were not in a level that we should be so we try a little bit different things and it paid off at the end with a fantastic second place.

“Today is like a victory.”

Despite finishing in second place in each of the last three races, Alonso has trailed championship rival Vettel every single time thus allowing the German driver to open up a sixty point lead at the top of the the drivers’ championship. With six races remaining in the 2013 season, it is becoming all-the-more likely that Vettel will be celebrating a fourth successive title come the end of the year.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.