Alonso: Le Mans "too fast, narrow" for current F1 cars

Fernando Alonso says Le Mans circuit layout is "way too fast, and way too narrow" for Formula 1, but admits it "could be fun" to race grand prix machinery there.

Two-time Le Mans winner Alonso, a victor with Toyota in 2018 and 2019, did a demonstration run with an Alpine F1 car shortly before the start of this year's event last Saturday.

He then stayed on to watch the start of the race as a guest of the Alpine WEC team and was accompanied by F1 teammate Esteban Ocon after the Hungarian GP winner had sampled the track in a GT4 car.

Alonso, who has extended his Alpine F1 contract to cover 2022, believes it won't take much to be adjust the cars to suit the venue, but concedes that the high-speed circuit would need changes for obvious safety reasons.

Formula 1 has only staged a race at the track once before, in 1967, when the race was won by Jack Brabham. 

Speaking on Thursday ahead of the Belgian GP, Alonso described the experience of driving the track in an F1 car as "very special", even though he did not complete a full lap at speed.

Regarding a potential quick F1 lap time, Alonso expects it would be substantially faster than the 2021 24 hours pole of 3m23.9s set by Kamui Kobayashi, or even Kobayashi's record lap of 3m14.79s from 2017.

"I think the simulation says like something under three minutes," he said. "But then you have to execute the lap. And it was not that easy, because honestly with the F1 car, I felt the long straights were a little bit unusual for our tyres, our cars.

"The braking points after the long straights were a bit tricky because the front tyres tried to lock up and things like that. So if you really go for it, and you push, it will be quite stressful.

"So in a way I was I was happy that it was just a demo lap!"

Asked if F1 cars could one day race at the circuit – as some fans suggested after Saturday's demo – Alonso said that despite his concerns, it wouldn't take much to adapt the cars themselves.

"It could be fun for sure to race there, I think it will not take too much in terms of preparation or engineering to go to tracks like Le Mans," he said.

"Even with very short time, I think our car was basically prepared to do that demo lap. And it was close to a race situation.

"But I don't know, at those speeds and talking about safety standards, we will probably have to change few things in the track itself.

"It will be way too fast, and way too narrow in some of the sections on the straights. So potentially it will require some changes, more on track than basically from the F1 community."

Fernando Alonso, Alpine F1

Fernando Alonso, Alpine F1

Photo by: Alpine

Ocon said he enjoyed his visit to the 24 Hours and, when asked by Motorsport.com if he would consider competing in the future, admitted he hasn't ruled out the possibility.

"It was amazing experience," he said. "I've been watching the race as a spectator when I was younger, but I haven't seen how it was working from the inside.

"So it was a quite interesting to be involved, have a look, and talk to the drivers as well who are involved in the race.

"It's been fun, and I had my first lap as well of the track in a GT4 car, so it's been a mega experience to be there and watch it from a different perspective.

"In the future, never say never, I would say. I'm fully focussed on F1. My aim is to be world champion one day, but if an opportunity comes, it's one of those that you can't say no to."

shares
comments

Related video

Hamilton: Working relationship with Bottas is ‘better than ever’

Previous article

Hamilton: Working relationship with Bottas is ‘better than ever’

Next article

Verstappen, Perez lose second Honda F1 engines after crash damage

Verstappen, Perez lose second Honda F1 engines after crash damage
Load comments
Why dumping the MGU-H is the right move for F1 Prime

Why dumping the MGU-H is the right move for F1

OPINION: With its days apparently numbered, the MGU-H looks set to be dropped from Formula 1’s future engine rules in order to entice new manufacturers in. While it may appear a change of direction, the benefits for teams and fans could make the decision a worthwhile call

The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots Prime

The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots

Team Lotus ceased to exist in 1994 - and yet various parties have been trying to resurrect the hallowed name, in increasingly unrecognisable forms, ever since. Damien Smith brings GP Racing’s history of the legendary team to an end with a look at those who sought to keep the flame alive in Formula 1.

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background Prime

Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background

OPINION: Formula 1 reconvenes for the Russian Grand Prix two weeks after the latest blow in ‘Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton’. While the Silverstone and Monza incidents were controversial, they thankfully lacked one element that so far separates the 2021 title fight from the worst examples of ugly championship battles

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
How Mika Hakkinen thrived at Lotus Prime

How Mika Hakkinen thrived at Lotus

Mika Hakkinen became Michael Schumacher’s biggest rival in Formula 1 in the late-90s and early 2000s, having also made his F1 debut in 1991. But as MARK GALLAGHER recalls, while Schumacher wowed the world with a car that was eminently capable, Hakkinen was fighting to make his mark with a famous team in terminal decline

Formula 1
Sep 21, 2021
The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey  Prime

The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey 

Before Michael Schumacher – or anyone else – had driven the 191 (or 911 as it was initially called), Eddie Jordan turned to a fellow Irishman to test his new Formula 1 car. JOHN WATSON, a grand prix winner for Penske and McLaren, recalls his role in the birth of a legend…

Formula 1
Sep 20, 2021
The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog Prime

The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog

A podium finisher in its first outing but then never again, the BRM P201 was a classic case of an opportunity squandered by disorganisation and complacency, says Stuart Codling.

Formula 1
Sep 18, 2021
The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from Prime

The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from

OPINION: The headlines were dominated by the Italian Grand Prix clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who had the halo to thank for avoiding potentially serious injury. But two days earlier, Formula 1 had a lucky escape with a Monza pitlane incident that could also have had grave consequences.

Formula 1
Sep 17, 2021
How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum Prime

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum

With two sprint races under its belt, Formula 1 must now consider its options for them going forward. While they've helped deliver exciting racing on Sundays, the sprints themselves have been somewhat lacking - creating yet another conundrum for F1 to solve...

Formula 1
Sep 16, 2021