Alonso: McLaren learning more with every lap completed

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Fernando Alonso enjoyed a productive day in Barcelona on Friday as the new McLaren-Honda MP4-30 completed its best mileage of the winter testing period so far.

Alonso finished seventh in the final standings, 1.3 seconds down on Daniel Ricciardo’s P1 lap time, but with 59 laps under his belt he managed to learn plenty about the new car after managing just 38 in total at the last test in Jerez.

“Definitely we had a better day today,” Alonso said. “We started running at 9am and finished running at 5:45pm, which is good news finally. We could test some of the potential of the car finally and complete some laps, and check some systems that we could not before.

“Every lap we do we learn things, we discover new things, so we are in a very early phase of the development of the car. It’s definitely very interesting and very challenging for all of us because it’s a completely new project.”

Alonso even went as far as calling the day “beautiful”, but said that progress does need to be made by the team in the remaining six days of testing before the start of the season in Melbourne next month.

“Everyone in the team is so excited about the McLaren-Honda partnership again,” Alonso said. “It has been a beautiful day for me, driving the car and exploring some of the potential.

“Obviously we are running with some limitations still on the engine, but definitely the car felt better than Jerez. Every lap is a learning process and I think we are enjoying this.

“Six days done, six days to go, and we need to make some progress. We are happy with today, but we know we did the lowest number of laps of the teams today.”

Jenson Button will return to the wheel of the MP4-30 in Jerez on Saturday, with Alonso rounding out the second test on Sunday.

Ganassi announces multiyear sponsorship extension with American Legion for No. 10

Chip Ganassi American Legion
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Chip Ganassi Racing announced a new primary sponsorship deal with The American Legion this week, shoring up the funding on its No. 10 Dallara-Honda of Alex Palou.

The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series champion primarily had driven with NTT Data sponsorship the past two seasons. But NTT Data will move next season to McLaren Racing as a primary sponsor for Felix Rosenqvist in 10 races and on the Indy 500 car of Tony Kanaan (who drove an American Legion car for Ganassi at the Brickyard last year).

It was the latest twist in a McLaren-Ganassi saga that included a contract dispute for the services of Palou (who is expected to move to McLaren in 2024 after reaching an agreement to race with Ganassi next year).

Ganassi stayed within its own walls to help plug the sponsorship gap left by NTT Data, re-signing The American Legion to a multiyear extension. The Indianapolis-based non-profit organization, which has been sponsoring Ganassi cars for the past few seasons, also will be associated with other Ganassi drivers, including Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson and development driver Kyffin Simpson in Indy NXT.

The Ganassi organization will continue promoting The American Legion’s “Be The One” campaign aimed at reducing veteran suicides. The team launched an online auction for the initiative this week.

“Supporting our nation’s veterans is of immense importance to our organization and we are humbled to continue supporting The American Legion’s mission in ending veteran suicide,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a release. “We will do absolutely everything we can to help veterans get the support they need while raising public awareness of the ‘Be The One’ platform.”

“We have received an overwhelming amount of support from fans, active-duty military members and veterans as a result of this partnership and we’re pleased to see it grow,” said Dean Kessel, chief marketing officer at The American Legion. “Thanks to the continuous collaboration with the team’s other partners, and the promotion of the ‘Be The One’ initiative, we are discovering more ways to engage with the military community than ever before. We want all veterans to know that it’s okay to ask for help.”