In an effort to appease and keep hold of their ageing star driver Fernando Alonso, ever the deal maker, McLaren’s team boss Zak Brown has enabled Alonso to branch out into the world of sports cars. The Daytona 24hr being the first endurance race this year and Alonso is competing in Brown’s United Autosport team.
With the Triple Crown of Motorsport clearly on his horizon, previous Monaco GP winner Fernando has long since given up the hope of a 3rd championship in F1 and is now aiming for winning the Indy 500 and the Le Man 24hrs. Zak Brown orchestrated McLaren to run a car last year at Indy with Alonso in the running for a possible win until his Honda engine expired within touching distance of the finish. It’s no secret that Brown is trying to make it happen for Alonso this year, and now with Honda out of the way since McLaren’s switch to Renault, it’s expected that Toyota will take the Spanish driver at the 24hrs of Le Mans. Toyota will be the only works team running this year since Porsche and Audi pulled out over the last two years, so it’s expect that Toyota will take victory, therefore a golden opportunity for Alonso to win at the first attempt.
Ex Formula 1 and Porsche factory driver Mark Webber see’s Alonso’s sportscar ambitions for 2018 as a mistake. The Australian driver and personal friend to Alonso made the leap to the WEC (world endurance championship) successfully in 2014 and competed at Le Mans but can’t see doing both F1 and Le Mans in 2018 as a wise move.
“It’s a mistake, they are two totally different things,” Webber told Italian website Automoto.it
“They both absorb a very high amount of mental energy,” he added.
“If you do Formula 1 you cannot afford certain distractions. I say this after doing several seasons and racing at Le Mans. If I were Fernando, I wouldn’t do it.”
“Either he chooses to do Le Mans properly and focuses on it, working on it three weeks in advance with a maniacal focus and forgetting the rest of the year, or he could risk getting hurt.
“At Le Mans, it all starts days before the race,” Webber explains
“It requires a very strong mental commitment, and to understand if it’s all worth it, I think Alonso is right to do Daytona,” insists Webber.
“He’ll assess everything and get an understanding of what is needed. And then I’m sure he’ll take the right decision.”
Current F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg won Le Mans in 2015 whilst racing full time in F1 with Force India, but Webber believes the victory was achieved in an entirely different context.
“That was with a second-rate team in F1. The pressures are different,” says Webber,
“He was also with the top Le Mans team and that simplified things a lot.”