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.

Donny Schatz edges Kyle Larson for Outlaws victory at Lake Ozark

Trent Gower/World of Outlaws
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Donny Schatz made a last-lap pass on Kyle Larson, snatching a World of Outlaws victory Saturday night at Lake Ozark Speedway.

Larson started on the pole, led 30 of 35 laps and was in control until a caution set up a two-lap shootout to the finish before a limited crowd in Eldon, Missouri.

Schatz and Larson traded the lead twice over the final two laps, but the 10-time champion emerged with his first victory since the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series returned in mid-May from a two-month layoff because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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“Man, I don’t know what to say, but Kyle’s a damn good racer,” Schatz, who led five laps, told DirtVision after his 296th Outlaws win. “I kind of had to go where he didn’t. We got that green-white-checkered, and I decided I was going to send it. He decided the same thing.

Donny Schatz celebrates at Lake Ozark Speedway after his second Outlaws Sprint Car victory of the season (Trent Gower).

“I’m glad to get the win. It feels like it’s been forever. I’ve been out here 24 years, and every night is a learning experience still.”

Larson finished second in his fifth start since he began racing with the Outlaws after being suspended from NASCAR.

“Obviously, it would have been nice to get the win,” Larson said on DirtVision. “I figured Donny would rip the middle. The restarts before, he’d almost clear me in (turns) 3 and 4. I should have known to protect and block his momentum. I felt I exited 2 OK. We don’t have spotters or rearview mirrors so you can’t see how close he is or really hear it when the pace is so slow.

“I just didn’t do a good enough job to run a smarter final couple of laps.”

Brad Sweet, Larson’s brother in law, finished third, with Shane Stewart and David Gravel rounding out the top five.

Larson rebounded from a 10th in Friday’s feature at Lake Ozark Speedway, continuing his streak of top-10 finishes in all five of his starts since the Outlaws’ return.

“We got our car a lot better from last night, so that was a plus,” said Larson, who finished second and first in back-to-back nights last week at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at Pevely, Missouri. “These guys are really tough. To be on the podium with Donny and Brad, they’ve won lots of big races and championships, it’s nice. I just didn’t do what I needed to do that last restart.”

Larson nearly had a flawless night Saturday, turning a 11.426-second lap to capture his second pole position this season and won the pole dash to start first in the feature.

Larson, who was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing from his NASCAR Cup Series ride last month for using a racial slur in an iRacing event, said last week that he plans to run several more NOS Energy Sprint Car Series races this year.

Larson remains indefinitely suspended by NASCAR but was approved to race by the Outlaws after completing sensitivity training.