Alonso: Second place “a nice surprise” for Ferrari

3 Comments

Fernando Alonso has claimed his second podium finish of the season in Hungary today following a sensational display of tire management and defensive driving.

The Spaniard started the race from fifth place on the grid, and led for large parts by virtue of his strategy. However, he was required to make his option tires last for far longer than feasibly possible, and ultimately had to yield to eventual winner Daniel Ricciardo in the final few laps of the race.

Nevertheless, he did manage to hold back Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton following the Briton’s charge from the pit lane to third place behind the Ferrari driver.

“I am extremely satisfied,” Alonso said on the podium after the race. “It has been a tough weekend and season in general, so it is a nice surprise.

“We took a gamble and a risk today, trying to get the victory. We went close but as I said I am extremely proud of the team and the job we did today. Very, very happy.”

Alonso has traditionally run well at the Hungaroring, claiming his maiden grand prix victory at the circuit back in 2003. With the poor pace of the F14 T making life more difficult in 2014, he said how races such as the one we saw today – featuring a rain shower and two safety car periods – are Ferrari’s only hope of securing big points.

“Today we had a combination of things that make the race difficult to execute and understand,” he explained. “We took the opportunities and [used] our experience, we need some crazy races to get some podiums this year and today we took the opportunity.”

With this result, Ferrari has moved back above Williams into third place in the constructors’ championship, as the British team could only bring its cars home in fifth and eighth place. Kimi Raikkonen kept quiet, but did finish the race in sixth place: his best result since re-joining the Italian marque at the beginning of the year.

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.”