Alonso hits back at questions about his motivation

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ABU DHABI – Fernando Alonso has responded to comments made by Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci about his motivation, saying that the Italian has not been in the F1 operation long enough to make such a judgement.

It was confirmed on Thursday that Alonso will be leaving Ferrari after this weekend’s race in Abu Dhabi after five years with the team, making way for four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Alonso’s departure marks the end of an era for Ferrari as a new regime is set up under Mattiacci’s leadership. In the team principals’ press conference on Thursday, he implied that Alonso’s motivation and commitment to the marque’s F1 programme may have waned.

“We need to thank Fernando for all he has done for us, what we have done together over the last five years,” Mattiacci said. “But at the same time it is clear to everybody that we want both to open new cycles but it was important to do it with the utmost motivation and commitment.”

Speaking after qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix yesterday, Alonso said that as Mattiacci only became involved with the F1 operation in April, he was not in a position to pass comment on his drive and motivation.

“I read the comments and thought they weren’t very good,” Alonso said. “If he tried to mean that I was no longer motivated then I think he arrived too late to Ferrari. He has only been here a few months and probably didn’t see all of the five years that I spent here.

“I’ve fought for every single race and for championships. Probably I was too old when he tried to renew me at the Monza race.

“He kept pushing and pushing and we had a lot of talks. Even in the last moment, again, we had a lot of phone calls and a lot of emails that I still have on my computer.

“Probably at that time maybe I was not so old, but when I took my decision I guess he has to find another driver.”

Alonso makes his final appearance as a Ferrari driver later today in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which you can watch live on NBCSN from 7a ET.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III