Brown: Never any ultimatums from Alonso

Date published: January 15 2018

Zak Brown insists Fernando Alonso never gave McLaren any ultimatums about his future if they didn’t drop engine supplier Honda.

Alonso was notably frustrated with Honda’s form in the third season of their partnership with McLaren.

A lack of reliability and pace meant the Spaniard and his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne were once again struggling to score points.

After a third season of more grid penalties than points, McLaren finally decided to drop Honda in favour of a new deal with Renault.

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That, though, wasn’t because of any ultimatum from Alonso.

“I have often heard that he gave us ultimatums but I want to assure you that this has never been the case,” F1i.com quotes Brown as having said during the Autosport International Show.

“He just wanted us to be competitive again.

“I think he would have stayed if we felt we’d been competitive staying where we were [with Honda]. I think he would have bought into that.

“[But] he has great history with Renault.”

Alonso will remain with McLaren for the 2018 season, once again partnering Vandoorne and Brown is hoping it will be a better campaign for the McLaren team.

“We haven’t made him any promises other than we want to get back to the front,” the McLaren CEO added. “He knows that. He knows what we’re capable of.”

Alonso: Brown ‘doing great things’ for F1

Date published: January 14 2018

Fernando Alonso has lavished praise on McLaren boss Zak Brown for his vision about how F1 and motorsport in general should be run.

Brown has played an integral role in securing other challenges for Alonso, such as the Indy 500 and the Daytona 24 Hours, and the Spaniard feels his boss has shown the way for how Formula 1 can engage with other racing disciplines.

“He’s a very unique boss. He has this wider vision of motorsport, he’s a commercial genius,” Alonso said.

“He helped McLaren a lot in the last two years, and now he’s not helping McLaren, I think he’s helping motorsport in general.

“So I completely share his vision. He’s not only my boss, he’s my friend as well.

“I think he’s doing great things for the sport.”

But Alonso also feels that other drivers will not get the opportunities he has had because not every boss is as forward-thinking as Brown.

“I can do it because with Zak Brown and McLaren, they have maybe a different vision, a little bit more wide vision of motorsport, and I share that vision as well,” Alonso explained.

“We are expanding a little bit the McLaren brand as well in motorsport, and we try to do it together.

“I think for other drivers in Formula 1, it will be difficult to get that vision.”

Webber: Alonso’s Daytona run a mistake

Date published: January 10 2018

Mark Webber believes Fernando Alonso is making a “mistake” by trying to fit the 24 Hours of Daytona, and possibly Le Mans, into his F1 schedule.

Last week the McLaren began testing for the Daytona event, which he intends using as an indicator for a possible shot at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Alonso was 12th fastest in last weekend’s mock qualifying.

However, former F1 driver and WEC champ Webber reckons he is making a mistake.

“It’s a mistake, [F1 and WEC] are totally different things,” the Aussie told Italian outlet Automoto.

“They require a lot of mental energy.

“If you do F1 you can not afford certain distractions.

“If you choose to do Le Mans, do it properly and focus on it, instead of working on it with three weeks to go with a maniacal focus, without forgetting the rest of the year.

“Today’s F1 is so specific that does not allow gaps.”

Alonso: Third World title is my priority

Date published: January 8 2018

Fernando Alonso is open to having another shot at the Indianapolis 500 but says winning a third F1 World title is his “main focus and priority.”

Last season, in the final year of what was a wretched partnership with Honda, the McLaren driver stepped away from Formula 1 to contest the Indy 500.

That, though, ended in disappointment as Alonso retired when his Honda engine blew.

This year, the Spaniard is looking forward to a better Formula 1 campaign with Renault now powering his McLaren F1 car.

As such he won’t be stepping away from the sport, instead competing in January’s Daytona 500 before focusing all his efforts on Formula 1.

“The main focus and priority is Formula 1 and winning a third World Championship,” he explained to Motorsport Week.

“I think this year with McLaren we have a good opportunity to show how good is the team with the Renault power unit, we should be back to the top places. That is the main focus.

“To race in some iconic events during the season and not disturb Formula 1 is also the plan. Doing this race [Daytona] is also some kind of first step in endurance and how these races are and how much I enjoy these races.

“After the 24 hours at Daytona, I will have a better understanding of these championships. Le Mans 24 hour and the triple crown is another target, so if I can fit the Le Mans 24 hour this year as I’m not doing the Indy 500, that would be great. Hopefully the following year, the Indy 500 can be in the plan again.”

Alonso chasing more pace after finishing P12

Date published: January 8 2018

Fernando Alonso feels United Autosports need to find more pace after finishing the second day of the Roar before the 24 pre-Daytona test down in 12th place.

The double Formula 1 World Champion is making his Daytona debut in the #23 United Autosports Ligier, alongside team-mates Phil Hanson and Lando Norris.

It was, however, a disappointing weekend for the Spaniard as he was only 12th fastest in the weekend’s mock qualifying.

While former Formula 1 driver Felipe Nasr was fastest with a 1m35.806, leading a quartet of Cadillacs ahead of Tristan Vautier, Alonso was P12 with a 1m37.515.

“There are still little changes going on and it’s the same with the performance of the car,” explained the McLaren F1 driver.

“Obviously it’s early days, it’s only testing, but we need to find more pace and hopefully be more competitive when we come back in the race.”

As for Nasr, the former Sauber driver, was happy with his work throughout Roar.

“All I have to say, is we as a team, Action Express and Cadillac, we brought the car out there to run the most amount of laps,” said the Brazilian.

“We were really getting into it and preparing for the race, because we know this weekend is more a part of what is going to come at the end of the month. We all felt pretty confident. We felt the car was behaving well.”

The 24 Hours takes place on January 27-28.

Alonso completes first Daytona practice session

Date published: January 6 2018

Fernando Alonso has got his first laps under his belt as he prepares for the Daytona 24 Hours at the three-day practice test.

The Spaniard is part of the United Autosports team alongside another McLaren driver in Lando Norris and another rising star in Phil Hanson.

Sharing the car with two teenagers, though, made for an uncomfortable day for the 36-year-old.

“The biggest thing, so far, is the seatbelts,” Alonso said.

“You know, the one that goes between our legs. It, erm, needs to be longer… So, yeah, that was the biggest challenge that we need to figure out.”

Alonso did not get as much time in the car as he would liked, but still managed to get good sense of what will be in store for him at the end of January for the race itself.

“Unfortunately, this was only a short time, three laps, but enough to have feeling in the car and on the speedway as well,” Alonso added.

“Obviously, the high banking is special and you feel the compression there in the body and the visibility change…

“It was good fun. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of track time but we’re going to get more in the second session. So far, so good.”

Alonso also revealed that his using the Daytona 24 Hours to see whether he enjoys the challenge of endurance racing enough to have a crack at Le Mans later this year.

“Doing this race is some kind of first step in endurance championship [driving], how these races are and how much I enjoy these races,” said Alonso.

“Hopefully, it’s a positive answer.

“After the Daytona 24 Hours, I will have a better understanding of these championships and the Le Mans 24 Hours and the triple crown is another target.

“So if I can fit in the Le Mans 24 Hours this year that I’m not doing the Indy 500, that will be great and hopefully the following year the Indy 500 can be in the plan again.”

‘Politically bad’ Alonso only has himself to blame

Date published: January 5 2018

Three-time World Champion Nelson Piquet has criticised Fernando Alonso’s decision-making and believes the Spaniard has let three more titles slip away because of them.

Alonso has long cut a frustated figure in Formula 1 with a 12-year gap from his second World Championship success to the present day and five years since his last victory.

The Spaniard’s misery has continued at McLaren after three ill-fated years with engine supplier Honda and began to look outside of Formula 1 at other race disciplines in order to keep himself motivated.

But Piquet feels this all could have been avoided if there was not such “a mess”, sometimes self-inflicted, at every team Alonso races for.

“Fernando Alonso has had the chance to win up to five world championships, but the reality is that there is always a mess wherever he is,” Piquet told broadcaster La Sexta.

“He is a fantastic driver, but also one who generates a lot of problems and in the end everyone ends up leaving the team.

“He is very bad politically in his work on the team. When you arrive on a team, at first you must be patient and work together, and later you win.

“But he always wants the best [straight away], and that is not the best way.”

Even though Piquet has questioned Alonso’s mentality and the way he conducts himself, he still feels the Spaniard is on a par in terms of ability with four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton.

He added: “I do not think Alonso is better. I think they are at the same level.”