Majority of Bahrain F1 test lineups are set

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So far, seven of the 11 teams have revealed their test schedule plans for who’s in their cars this week at Bahrain. The four-day test, the second of the Formula One season, runs from Wednesday Feb. 19 through Saturday Feb. 22.

Mercedes-powered teams, which got the most running in at Jerez last month, have two of their four team lineups set. McLaren will see Kevin Magnussen, who set the fastest overall time at Jerez, in on Wednesday and Thursday with Jenson Button taking over Friday and Saturday. Meanwhile the Force India team will run Nico Hulkenberg the first two days with Sergio Perez in the next two.

Renault, which had the most work to do after Jerez, has seen all four of its teams’ lineups revealed. Red Bull will have Sebastian Vettel in the first two days, with Daniel Ricciardo in after that. Lotus, which skipped the Jerez test but did do a single day’s worth of running there for filming purposes, will have Romain Grosjean in for Wednesday and Thursday and Pastor Maldonado in Friday and Saturday.

Toro Rosso has opted to alternate drivers daily, as Daniil Kvyat will run Wednesday and Friday, and Jean-Eric Vergne in Thursday and Saturday. Caterham, meanwhile, will give reserve driver Robin Frijns the car on Wednesday, Kamui Kobayashi two days (Thursday and Saturday), and Marcus Ericsson only a single day on Friday.

Marussia is the lone Ferrari team to officially confirm its lineup, with Jules Bianchi in for Wednesday and Saturday, and Max Chilton in for Thursday and Friday.

That leaves Mercedes, Williams, Ferrari and Sauber yet to officially confirm who’s running when.

Fernando Alonso likes NASCAR country, but he’s not leaving F1 any time soon

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Jimmie Johnson strolled into the Charlotte Convention Center and did a double-take when he saw Fernando Alonso hanging out in a hallway.

“What’s he doing here?” NASCAR’s seven-time champion wondered.

Alonso made the trip to North Carolina to make an appearance at NASCAR’s annual preseason media tour. No, a ride in NASCAR is not imminent, but the two-time Formula One champion is about to embark on his first major sports car race .

Alonso will race this weekend in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona for United Autosports, the sports car team owned by his McLaren F1 boss, Zak Brown. It was Brown who paved the way for Alonso to compete in last year’s Indianapolis 500, and he is helping the Spaniard knock prestigious races off his wish list.

Alonso spent about 10 minutes chatting with Johnson, and the duo was eventually joined by sports car aces Scott Pruett and Joey Hand, who were brought to the NASCAR event by IMSA to help promote the Rolex, and then Cup champion Kevin Harvick.

The meet-and-greet with Alonso was a thrill for Johnson. Alonso was equally impressed.

“The first time I heard his name it was probably 2003 on the NASCAR video game,” Alonso said Tuesday. “I used to choose him, not knowing him, just because of the car. I remember playing with another friend of mine, he likes a chocolate company I will not name now, and he was choosing that car and I was choosing Jimmie’s car.

“But that was the first time I heard of him, and obviously the success that he has in the years in motor racing, he became a legend of our sport, and massive respect.”

Johnson said he’s always been a fan of Alonso’s and spent some time telling Alonso how well he ran in the Indianapolis 500 last May. Alonso led 27 laps and seemed to be in contention for the win until his engine expired 21 laps from the finish.

“He handled himself so well, really did a great job, and I think brought a lot to the table,” Johnson said. “He brought worldwide attention to motorsports and it was really good for us here stateside.”

While in NASCAR country, Alonso was asked about potentially trying a stock car someday. It’s not something that could happen soon, he said, but it is something he’d like to at least attempt.

“Right now, it looks quite far. The driving technique and the experience all those guys have, it’s difficult for me to achieve that level,” Alonso said. “I will never know until I try, so I would like one day to test a car and after that, driving the car, I will know how enjoyable it will be in racing.

“Outside (watching), the races are great because they are all in a group, it is not predictable at all and until the last lap, you don’t know what is going to happen. We love watching from the outside, but I don’t know from the inside.”

Alonso has so far only had three days of testing at Daytona in the sports car to adjust to a closed cockpit, as well as driving at night and in traffic. Trying different series has been a thrill for him, and he’s still eyeing a way to get Le Mans on his schedule.

“It’s one thing that I would like to do, I would like to compete in the best races in the world, and Le Mans and is one of the top races,” he said. “If that day will be this year or not is still to be discussed, but maybe yes.”

More AP Auto Racing: https://racing.ap.org/