Alonso: Points within McLaren’s reach in Singapore

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Fernando Alonso hopes that McLaren can carry its strong start to the Singapore Grand Prix weekend into tomorrow’s race and record just its fifth top ten finish of the 2015 season.

McLaren’s 2015 form has been blighted by the new Honda power unit, which has failed to live up to the lofty expectations that were carried over from the last McLaren-Honda partnership in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Alonso has recorded just two top ten finishes since joining McLaren at the beginning of the year, but has hopes of picking up a third on Sunday after recording his best qualifying result of the season in P12.

“I think this is the position we deserved today,” Alonso said. “Without the yellow flag, we may have been able to manage 11th and 12th, half a second from the top 10, but not better than that.

“This weekend has been very good for me, though, very different from Monza and Spa, I’ve always felt comfortable and competitive here, and tomorrow we’ll start in a good position from which to score points.

“The race here is quite tough and demanding, on the mechanical side and on the driver’s side. There’s no room for mistakes, so we have to run a perfect race tomorrow and hopefully be in the points.

“Overtaking here is very difficult, so positions are mainly decided by where you start and by your strategy. There are always safety cars here, and you need some luck with that too.”

Teammate Jenson Button was caught out by the late yellow flag in Q2, leaving him 15th on the grid for the start of tomorrow’s race.

“We were always going to have high targets coming here off the back of two difficult races – you’ve got to think positive,” Button said. “But even if we’d got absolutely everything together, it would still have been difficult.

“Even so, 15th isn’t what I’d hoped for, and I’m sure 12th isn’t what Fernando had ideally hoped for either. It was a pretty tough qualifying session, all in all. I got understeer when I put new tires on, and you just can’t put enough front wing on to help that.

“And then I got the yellow flag at the end of the lap, so I had to lift, which scuppered my chances of doing better. I wouldn’t have got through to Q3, but I would have been a bit higher up.

“So tonight I’ll have a nice chilled evening and look forward to tomorrow. It’s quite an unusual circuit here – you can overtake – so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

The power-easy nature of the Marina Bay Street Circuit has played to McLaren’s advantage so far this weekend, giving both Alonso and Button a chance of adding to the team’s measly haul of 17 points so far in 2015.

The Singapore Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET on Sunday.

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
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Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.