Norris looking to learn to from Alonso

Date published: December 11 2017

Lando Norris is hoping to make the most of his opportunity when he races alongside Fernando Alonso at the Daytona 24 Hours in January.

The McLaren test and development driver will be getting some first-hand experience with Alonso after being named in the United Autosports line-up for next month’s race.

“I’ll get to know a lot more about the work ethic of a Formula 1 driver,” Norris told the McLaren F1 website.

“Even though he’ll be driving a different car, he’ll still want to do as well as he can.

“He’ll particularly want to beat his team-mates, and he’ll work as hard as he can to improve the car. Wherever I can, I’ll try and take onboard everything he does.”

Not only does Norris want to learn from the two-time World Champion, but he is also eager to see how he matches up to him in terms of pace.

“Obviously, I’d like to do well,” he said. “But I think it’s a more of good opportunity to learn from Fernando. I definitely don’t want to let that opportunity go to waste.

“But, at the same time, I’d like to prove what I can do against him, especially in qualifying.

“Daytona is a team game, so I realise that we’ll be sharing the seat and working together. But I’d like to think there’ll be a bit of a competition about who can do a better job in practice and qualifying.

“Whoever does the best has done the best, but it’s still a great opportunity to learn not from him.”

Norris is also making the step up from F3 to F2 in 2018 and is looking forward to getting stuck into what he describes as a “tough challenge”.

He added: “The aim is to win [the title] but I think that’s going to be quite tough.”

“I think top three would be more realistic. But I said that this year [in F3] and ended up winning!

“The other day, I said if I wanted to prove I were as good as Charles Leclerc or better, then I needed to win.

“But F2 is a much tougher category than F3, with a lot more variables.

“It’ll be tougher to win as many races as in the past, but Leclerc has proved he can do it.

“It’s hard to say until I get to the first race. But I’m confident in what the [Carlin] team can do.”

Prost: ‘Vandoorne even better than Alonso’

Date published: December 7 2017

The legendary Alain Prost has been very impressed with Stoffel Vandoorne’s development as McLaren and thinks he is operating at a higher level than Fernando Alonso.

Vandoorne had a tough start to life in Formula 1 but enjoyed a strong second half of the 2017 campaign which was highlighted by two back-to-back and career best finishes of P7.

Prost, who acts as Renault’s official advisor, thinks Vandoorne has built a strong foundation for himself and can go on to enjoy an even better in 2018 as McLaren join forces with the Enstone team.

“Everyone watched Vandoorne because, prior to coming into F1, he was recognised as one of the most exceptional youngsters for the future,” Prost told RTBF.

“He started at McLaren with reliability problems and never the same equipment as Alonso.

“But I think Vandoorne is now playing on the same level or even better than Alonso. He’s doing his development in a perfect way.

“Next year with a good engine, we’ll see if he’s efficient and reliable. Being on a team with Alonso is not easy, so Vandoorne has to stay calm, take his time, and I think there is no problem for him to be on top in years to come.”

Hamilton on why he won’t reunite with Alonso

Date published: December 5 2017

Lewis Hamilton says he’ll never partner Fernando Alonso as the two work like north poles of a magnet, creating “negative energy.”

Hamilton and Alonso teamed up back in 2007 at McLaren in what turned out to be a fractious relationship.

One a rookie, the other a double World Champion, both had something prove and butted heads on and off the track.

But while many in Formula 1 would like to see the two as team-mates once again, believing it would be the strongest pairing on the grid, Hamilton says it will never happen.

Asked whether he would consider ever partnering Alonso, he told German newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung: “No. That will not happen.

“Toto [Wolff, Mercedes team boss] understands how the interpersonal dynamics of a team works.

“I would compare it to a magnet: when two north poles meet, they repel each other. You need a north and a south pole.

“Two of the same result in negative energy, as in 2007 between me and Alonso.”

Raikkonen sets pace, Alonso’s surprise crash

Date published: November 28 2017

The first day of the post-season test in Abu Dhabi is well underway with Robert Kubica racking up the laps at the Yas Marina circuit, Fernando Alonso hitting the tyre wall and Kimi Raikkonen setting the pace.

At the lunch break, Raikkonen topped the timesheets with a 1:37.768, a full 1.5 seconds clear of Romain Grosjean in second, with Nico Hulkenberg completing the top three.

All eyes were firmly on Kubica, though, as he closes in on a full Formula 1 return with Williams. The Pole completed 58 laps by the interval and placed himself sixth on the leaderboard with a fastest time of 1.41:296.

McLaren have been given permission to run two cars given that their tyre test in Brazil was cancelled, but Fernando Alonso’s running was disrupted when he crashed into the tyre barriers before continuing his running just before lunch.

Development driver Oliver Turvey is also in action for McLaren, with the Brit currently in seventh place and one spot ahead of Alonso. The other reserve drivers on show – Nikita Mazepin (Force India) and Sean Galael (Toro Rosso) – are P9 and P11 respectively.

World Champion Lewis Hamilton posted the fourth quickest time.

Day 1 timesheet (lunch)

1 Kimi Raikkonen     Ferrari     1:37.768,
2 Romain Grosjean     Haas     1:39.270
3 Nico Hulkenberg     Renault     1:39.803
4 Lewis Hamilton     Mercedes     1:40.017
5 Daniel Ricciardo     Red Bull     1:40.713
6 Robert Kubica     Williams     1:41.296
7 Oliver Turvey     McLaren     1:41.914
8 Fernando Alonso     McLaren     1:41.995
9 Nikita Mazepin     Force India     1:42.346
10 Marcus Ericsson     Sauber     1:43.286
11 Sean Gelael     Toro Rosso     1:45.622

Alonso announces his own eSports team

Date published: November 23 2017

Fernando Alonso has become the first Formula 1 driver to venture into eSports and head his own team called FA Racing G2 Logitech G.

Alonso has joined forces with McLaren sponsors Logitech and his team will enter a plethora of events in both Formula 1 sim racing as well as other series, too.

“I am a team principal finally,” joked Alonso at the team launch in the Yas Marina paddock. “There will be no meetings very early. We will change completely the way we work!!”

“It is very exciting, and it is a completely new thing to discover.

“I think eSports in other formats has been very successful but in racing, it is at the very beginning, and I think huge potential will come.

“I am happy to be one of the first investing in this direction and I think good and fun times are coming – not only for us, but for gamers at home and for fans.”

Formula 1 commercial boss Sean Bratches has welcomed Alonso’s jump into eSports and believes it is something that will continue to grow within the sport.

“Fernando’s brand has been a pillar of the success of F1 in the linear world, and just like other brands going into other areas, he gives a credibility,” Bratches said.

“A lot of drivers and athletes, in their second career, go into business and I think while this is a fun participatory game, it is competition. It is a big business and it is just getting bigger.

“F1 and Fernando are getting in at the early stages, notwithstanding that it has been around a couple of years.”

Alonso struggles to think of Honda memories

Date published: November 23 2017

A disinterested Fernando Alonso was not particularly forthcoming about his good memories involving McLaren-Honda as they prepare to close the final chapter in the relationship.

McLaren-Honda’s divorce will officially go through after the race in Abu Dhabi, bringing an end to a miserable three-year spell between the duo.

Speaking at the final drivers’ press conference of the season, Alonso was not in the mood to re-live a certain race when asked about his good memories of the last three years.

“Erm…I don’t know.” Alonso said after a lengthy pause.

“It’s difficult to pick out one race because obviously the performance was never there.

“Even the P5 in Monaco last year wasn’t as fun as it should have been.

“What I take from the last three years is the commitment and the spirit of the team is amazing.

“I did have some highs and lows with different teams with different performance but it was the first time with the performance we had on Sundays that the team was this committed for the next race and the next step. There was not a single person giving up.”

Alonso also revealed he had high hopes for the Honda partnership, but they have fallen way below his expectations.

He added: “I personally had a lot of expectations for the McLaren-Honda project but we didn’t achieve the results so it’s now time for a change and I’m optimistic.”

Alonso completes test ahead of Daytona 24 debut

Date published: November 22 2017

Fernando Alonso began his preparations for the Rolex 24 At Daytona with his first test behind the wheel of a United Autosports car at Aragon.

Just days before the final race of the F1 season, the Spaniard was putting in the laps in the Ligier JS P217 at Motorland Aragon in Spain.

“I had a great first test,” said Alonso. “Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time. 

“There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car.

“I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Alonso, who covered 98 laps, will race for United Autosports at January’s Daytona with Phil Hanson and McLaren reserve driver Lando Norris.