Alonso matches best 2014 qualifying result at Spa

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Fernando Alonso matched his best qualifying result of the 2014 F1 season today in Belgium, finishing fourth in the session on Saturday afternoon.

In wet conditions at Spa-Francorchamps, the Ferrari driver managed to qualify ahead of nearest-rivals Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas, and made no secret of his happiness in a press conference on Saturday afternoon.

“I’m definitely happy with the result,” Alonso said. “Obviously starting in the first two rows is quite a difficult thing to do.

“We didn’t have any qualifying that we’ve performed at this level in the season so definitely the rain or the conditions, or the car with this level of downforce works a little bit better and we managed to do a good lap and be in the first two rows.

“As I said this is something we are quite pleased with.”

Now, he is hoping to get in the mix for a podium finish behind the dominant Mercedes cars on Sunday at Spa, but knows that he will face a tough fight against the Red Bull and Williams drivers.

“We’ll see, I think the possibility is there, no doubt,” Alonso said. “I think that we are in a good position, fourth, we have some people around us with great pace, like Ricciardo, like the Williams.

“We will need to fight hard to be on the podium but we know that Mercedes, even if they look very quick, they have some mechanical problems in the last races so we just need to be there ready to take any opportunity.”

Alonso came close to winning last month’s Hungarian Grand Prix, before eventually finishing in second place behind Daniel Ricciardo. However, he will know that beating the Australian in tomorrow’s race could go a long way to helping him secure third place in the drivers’ championship, which he admitted yesterday was “ambitious”, but remains his target nevertheless.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

SMP Racing
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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.