Having spent time in both the IndyCar and Formula 1 paddocks over the past month, Fernando Alonso has delivered his verdict on the varying atmospheres, pressures and expectations in the two series ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.
Alonso skipped the Monaco Grand Prix in order to make his debut at the Indianapolis 500 two weeks ago, where he qualified fifth and ran up front for much of the race before retiring due to an engine failure.
One of the most entertaining images to come out of Alonso’s ‘500 odyssey was of the Spaniard traveling down Gasoline Alley on a skateboard.
While Alonso said he hadn’t broken out the skateboard before in the F1 paddock before as it was not allowed, it did lead him into an interesting comparison between the two environments.
“Well the skateboarding, I think here you are not allowed to bring those kind of things!” Alonso said.
“The whole atmosphere is just different there. Everyone is more relaxed, is happy. Even the way of events we had, everyone is proud of that race, of that event. They’ve been there for many years. Everyone that comes to the race, they are just proud to welcome them and they expect to have fun in that race.
“I don’t say that here is different, but here with years and you know with all the business that is around F1, everyone is trying to find some war or something you say or do that creates maybe a thing behind to more on the news. There it is just about 33 drivers doing the race and just enjoying race.
“Here it is more. Formula 1 is bigger in every sense, and because it is bigger, there are other things. But it’s in all kind of sports in happens. You are more relaxed because the environment is more relaxed.
“There is not the pressure and everything that Formula 1 has here. It is just different.”
Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.