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Alonso stresses importance of Triple Crown bid in 2018 racing plans

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Fernando Alonso has stressed that his bid for the Triple Crown of Motorsport remains a priority as he forms his 2018 racing plans, adding fuel to the fire of a shot at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Alonso began his push to become just the second driver in history to win the Triple Crown by taking part in the Indianapolis 500 in May as part of a joint entry between McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport.

Alonso has completed one leg by winning the Monaco Grand Prix twice, and has long-stressed his desire to race at Le Mans, dropping heavy hints last month in a press conference that he could target an appearance at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Contract talks with McLaren are continuing, with Alonso aiming to have a decision made by the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas next weekend.

Speaking during a live Q&A on Instagram, Alonso said he was continuing to mull over racing plans for next year, but said his Triple Crown bid remained a priority.

“I’m still thinking, still deciding. I could have already made a decision, but there’s still some details we need to figure out,” Alonso said.

“As I’ve said many times, my aim is to be the best driver in the world, to be the most complete driver in the world. For that, you need to win in different series in different cars at different times.

“The Triple Crown is still a very big priority for me, so I’m working on that.”

Alonso has already ruled out racing in the Indy 500 next year due to the clash with the Monaco Grand Prix, leaving Le Mans as the only possible way to further his Triple Crown bid.

There are no clashes between F1 and Le Mans in 2018, with both the test day and the starting of the Le Mans race week avoiding grand prix weekends.

Alonso would also be able to make his FIA World Endurance Championship debut at the 6 Hours of Spa at the beginning of May as a pre-cursor to Le Mans, with the event falling between grands prix in Azerbaijan and Spain.

Toyota is set to be the sole manufacturer racing in the LMP1 class of the WEC next year after Porsche’s departure, making it the only location for Alonso to possible end up if he wants to challenge for overall victory.

While this may have been hard to make happen when McLaren was partnered with rival Japanese manufacturer Honda, the F1 team will link up with Renault from 2018, opening up the possibility.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.