Fernando Alonso, Toyota, World Endurance Championship, Bahrain, 2017

Alonso not planning F1 exit: “He just wants to win Le Mans”

2018 F1 season

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Fernando Alonso remains a McLaren driver “first and foremost” and his Toyota commitments will involve little besides driving the car, according to group executive director Zak Brown.

Start, Fuji, World Endurance Championship, 2017
Fuji’s WEC race could be moved so Alonso can enter
“Fernando’s effectively restricted to just driving the race car,” Brown told F1 media including F1 Fanatic at a conference yesterday. “As far as commercial appearances, sponsor commitments, things of that nature, that’s very minimised.”

“He’s on loan from us, we came to an arrangement with Toyota, [he] is to allow him to race the car but not travel the globe having commercial commitments.”

Alonso could do as many as 27 racing weekends this year which meant McLaren wanted to minimise his travel as far as possible. However there were other reasons for limiting his involvement with Toyota as Brown explained.

“Toyota don’t have many sponsors on there so there aren’t any sitting there today that conflict with McLaren but if they do find any partner that’s conflicting with McLaren we couldn’t have Fernando walking around in competing sponsors attire,” said Brown.

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“And also he’s a McLaren driver first and foremost and a Formula One driver. That programme, while he’s going to go there and try and win the championship – because that’s what he does – when you think of Fernando you think of him as a McLaren Formula One driver first and foremost.”

Fernando Alonso, 2017
Alonso “races or drives every weekend”
Alonso’s packed scheduled has prompted concern he could ‘burn out’ during 2018, but Brown isn’t concerned. “I think ‘what would he be doing those weekends otherwise’?”

“He wouldn’t be testing in a Formula One car, he wouldn’t be here on a simulator, there’s only so much he can do. We’ve got everything we need out of him on a Formula One front so these are weekends that he’d be in a go-kart or golfing or whatever he wants to do. So he’s just going to be in a Toyota WEC car.”

Brown added he isn’t concerned Alonso’s WEC campaign signals he is preparing to turn his back on F1, saying it shows his eagerness to race as much as possible.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Brown. “He races or drives every weekend. Half the time under a different name when he’s karting. So he just wants to be in race cars.”

“I think it keeps him fresh, it keeps him focused, it’s what he wants to do.”

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Allowing Alonso to race outside of F1 weekends is important to keep him motivated, says Brown. “I think drivers lose motivation before age catches them.”

“I’m not one that subscribes to ‘you have to be 18 to be in Formula One and 20 now is old’. I also don’t think 36 is old. I think it’s all about motivation. If you look at [Michael] Schumacher, even after taking a few years off, [he was] pretty close to Nico [Rosberg] who goes on to be a world champion, and he was in his forties. And that’s because Schumacher had a level of determination and passion for driving that lots of other drivers just lose interest.”

Mika [Hakkinen] is a great example: Unbelievable driver but said ‘I’m done’. I think Fernando is very well prepared, knows what it takes to be successful, and wouldn’t have taken the additional commitment if he didn’t think he could do both at the highest level. And I definitely don’t think it’s any other agenda than he just wants to race and win Le Mans.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 19 comments on “Alonso not planning F1 exit: “He just wants to win Le Mans””

    1. I don’t see any problem with letting Alonso do it unless he gets injured doing WEC, but that’s life and racing, it can happen.

    2. Didn’t Schumacher do karting all the time for the entirety of his career?
      From when I use to followi Moto GP I remember that many riders would do motocross and all kinds of dirt track racing on their free weekends as well.

      1. Schumacher did tons of f1 testing so he probably did not have much time to race in other competitions

      2. Yeah, I am pretty sure many more racers like to race outside of what they do “for a living” @damon. Afterall, having fun at being fastest doesn’t go away, nor does the will to win, during “off-time”.

        Compare Rosberg mentioning how he stepped up his karting again to improved his race craft and how that might have been one of the things that helped him nail that championship in 2016

    3. I don’t know how he’ll be able to manage 27 racing weekends in the 40 weekend racing calendar. He could be pretty burnt out by the end of it.

      A lot of this depends on how competitive McLaren are though. The more competitive McLaren are, the less likely Alonso is to do many WEC weekends.

      1. @todfod He’ll be fine. Let’s not forget he’s probably still driving less than when unlimited testing was allowed in F1.

      2. @todfof

        I don’t see it like that.

        This seems to be the first time that Alonso is actually allowed to let his hair down and just race this season. You can see it from the interviews during the Indy 500 and the 24 Hours At Daytona that he is one of those guys that just want to race, and it doesn’t matter what it is. He is starting to strike me more as the type that just wants to have a chance, unlike the McLaren-Honda partnership where he was handicapped because of the engine issues where he vented on the topic.

        I say let him have the moment while it is being offered to him. What is the worst that could happen? If he gets burned out, he gets burned out but he’s professional enough as a racer to still put in the time and commitment to do what he has to do for McLaren. Then he’ll realize that he can’t do what he just did and dial it back a notch. No harm, no foul.

    4. “Toyota don’t have many sponsors on there so there aren’t any sitting there today that conflict with McLaren but if they do find any partner that’s conflicting with McLaren we couldn’t have Fernando walking around in competing sponsors attire,” said Brown.

      I had to let that sink in for a second.
      So, what Brown says, is: Thankfully there is no sponsorship conflict because Toyota have so few sponsors.
      Prime example of the pot calling the kettle blank (pun attempted)?

      1. No. It simply means that if mclaren is sponsored by dell then then dell would not want to see their driver doing wec races and be sponsored by hp or acer. There are no hidden messages. Mclaren don’t have many sponsors but toyota has very few.

        And sponsor conflicts are probably one of the key reasons why it is difficult for drivers to do many championships. Not just because teams have different sponsors that could be competitors but the driver could have personal sponsors. For example if alonso had personal deal with acer and toyota has a deal with dell then you can be sure both of the brands can’t be on the same overalls.

    5. He’s gotta do it now whilst there is no competition! Best chance he is going to get.

      1. Two car grid. It is basically 50-50 chance whether he wins it or has dnf. It is almost sad that toyota is willing to do it alone with no competitors. Kind of a joke actually.

    6. chris97 (@chrismichaelaoun)
      9th February 2018, 11:20

      He’ll be fine.

      Hes from the V10 era with a lot of in season testing and in race qualifying laps, lap after lap.

    7. I believe burnout concerns are non-issue…most people work more days than is an equivalent of 27 race weekends year after year for decades. Generally it involves much less travel of course, and other things, but Alonso is a race car driver who enjoys and wants to do his job…so no big deal here. He wants to win Le Mans, Indy 500, and he wants another F1 title and it is great that he has an opportunity to go after these goals, however late in his career it might have presented itself. I wish him luck.

    8. Toyota don’t have many sponsors on there so there aren’t any sitting there today that conflict with McLaren

      McLaren don’t have many sponsors on there so there aren’t any sitting there today that conflict with Toyota

    9. With an estimated fortune of $220 million, Fernando can pretty much do what he wants. I wish him all the best. My dream would be to see him full time in Indycar, but I think that will always be just that, a dream.

    10. Personally I feel like Alonso is chasing something that he can look back to later in life, like maybe when he has grandkids.

      Indycar is something he can do later, maybe after he retires from F1, drivers in their 40s and 50s have won Indycar races.

      Le Mans is something he will require a beast health mode something he can only do at this age, so I totally understand why he is doing this.

      Also competing with the best, chasing number 1 is what he has in his blood, unless he gets that seat in the Mercs there is no chance for that in F1, atleast until 2020.

    11. I cannot express how much my respect for Alonso has increased in recent years, from loving him in 2012 to hating him through 2013 and 14 while he acted like a pantomime villain in F1, to going back to loving his never say die attitude and his exceptional driving in the character building phase with Honda (what else could he do really, other than build character).
      I was mesmerised by his drive at the Indy 500 and I was mesmerised by his drives in F1 (the few times we saw him on camera or on pace). He is probably one driver who we will talk about 50 years down the line as the absolute legend of this generation.
      The only thing I used to blame him for were his horrible luck in career planning and his toxic attitude inside the team. While the former is still as bad as before, the latter is probably one of the best things to come out of the Honda years. Alonso is now as fiercely competitive as before, but also much more chilled out with his team and what he requires of them. Maybe the definition of competition changed in his mind, but whatever the case may be, Alonso is just a far more pleasant person than he was before. Brilliant guy.

    12. I think that 2018 will be the first F1 season for Alonso where he will lose points to his teammate. In 2015, Alonso did lost to Button, but that season was a lottery with Honda reliability. Last year, Alonso almost lost to Vandoorne. This year, given his age, he will lose fair and square to Vandoorne.
      It’s the worst decision Alonso made during his entire career. Certainly, he will have fun. But he won’t cope with so many races, he will not win Le Mans (besides, even if he does, the win won’t really count because there’s no competition), he will not win in WEC, he will not win in F1.
      After all the failures, Alonso will end his racing career this year. I will watch all his races anyway, but I think this is the biggest failure.

    13. Burn out? Seriously? How many people on this website would love to d̶r̶i̶v̶e̶ ̶a̶ ̶f̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶c̶a̶r̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶f̶u̶n̶ work just 27 weekends of the year
      Even if it’s a 3 day weekend, that 81 days a year he’s d̶r̶i̶v̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶ ̶f̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶c̶a̶r̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶f̶u̶n̶ working. Poor bloke!!

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