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Alonso: ‘Indianapolis weeks the highlight of the year for me’

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Fernando Alonso’s week of diversity has taken him to Bahrain, testing a Toyota TS050 Hybrid, his native Spain, testing a United Autosports Ligier JS P217 Gibson at Motorland Aragon, and finally back to Abu Dhabi this week for the Formula 1 season finale with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in his McLaren Honda.

But it was the fourth car he drove this year, the McLaren Honda Andretti Dallara DW12 IndyCar in May, that Alonso ultimately called his season highlight of his abnormal but surreal 2017 campaign.

The two-time Formula 1 World Champion’s bow at the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil was the shock announcement of the spring, and the month and a half whirlwind that followed made for one of the international racing stories of the year, if not the decade.

Alonso quickly adapted to IndyCar and oval racing, making his impact during the race after qualifying fifth, leading 27 laps and being in contention right until his Honda engine failed him with just over 20 laps remaining in the 200-lap race.

Speaking to NBCSN Friday in the Abu Dhabi pre-race edition of “Paddock Pass,” Alonso reflected back on all he’s driven this year and immediately hailed the Indianapolis adventure as his season highlight. Alonso’s portion starts below at 6:13 in the clip, following a look at Pirelli’s range of 2018 compounds.

“I’m quite happy with this year,” he told NBCSN’s Will Buxton.

“As I’ve said before, the Indianapolis weeks were definitely the highlight of the year for me. I did really enjoy participating there, and discovering the event. I will not be next year but I will be in the future again. Overall I will remember 2017 with a smile.”

As for Alonso’s hectic last week-plus, he didn’t mention either the Toyota or United drives by name (from a Toyota standpoint, he can’t per his McLaren Honda contract through the end of the year – nor could the Toyota team officially refer to Alonso in its social media postings, as my colleague Luke Smith explains here) but did say the variety posed a wealth of different challenges.

“I did enjoy it,” he said. “Obviously every car was quite different, quite different driving styles an quite different performance on it. It’s part of the challenge. It’s part of being a better driver, and learning from the drivers that have that machine every day of their life. It was interesting, and I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”

Ever the renaissance man, Thursday also saw Alonso announce an eSports racing team called FA Racing-G2 esports team, supported by LogitechG, details of which he shared below on Twitter.

And on Friday, Kimoa announced it would become the official surfwear of McLaren – Kimoa is Alonso’s sports clothing line.

As for his day job – and it says something about his F1 season that we come this far in this post before getting to it – Alonso has a chance to score points for the third straight race for the first time this season this weekend.

A 10th in Mexico and 8th in Brazil has lifted his season total to 15 points scored, now two clear of McLaren Honda teammate Stoffel Vandoorne for 15th in the driver’s standings. This is the final weekend of the McLaren Honda package before Renault power units come on board from 2018.

New Formula E champ, teammate fined for ‘underwear violation’

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During this past weekend’s pair of season-ending races in New York, newly-crowned Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne and Techeetah teammate Andre Lotterer were fined nearly $6,000 apiece for, well, there’s no easier way to say it than, “underwear violations.”

According to Jalopnik.com, the two drivers were fined for “wearing non-compliant” underwear during qualifying for Sunday’s second and final race of the weekend.

In addition to cash, the duo also lost two penalty points each for violating Article 30.14 of the Formula E 2017/2018 regulations.

In case you’re wondering, the violation has nothing to do with not wearing the right sponsor’s brand of jockeys or boxers.

Rather, Formula E ruled the underwear the drivers wore was a “safety issue” and that the drivers were penalized for wearing “non-compliant” underwear.

Drivers are required to wear fire- and flame-resistant outer- and under-garments while behind the wheel to help minimize the risk of being burned in the event of a crash and resulting fire.

Here’s how Formula E characterized the violation in a statement about Vergne’s penalty

“After checking the clothes, helmet and front head restraint of the driver, it was found that he was wearing non-compliant underwear pants which are not allowed by the [FIA’s] international sporting code. The driver apologized. The stewards consider that in this case the infringement occurred during group qualifying with limited cars on circuit for a short period of time.”

It’s not the first time Formula E drivers have been penalized for having on the wrong kind of drawers.

Former F-E champ Lucas di Grassi was penalized three points and nearly $10,000 in March for fire-resistant underwear that FIA officials called “too short.”

Gee, who knew that pre-qualifying “inspection” could be so personal?

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