Alonso's verdict on whether F1 could race at Le Mans - The Race
Formula 1, WEC/Le Mans

Alonso’s verdict on whether F1 could race at Le Mans

Aug 26 2021
By Scott Mitchell

Fernando Alonso reckons it would not be difficult to adapt a Formula 1 car to race at Le Mans but the circuit is “too fast and narrow” in its current form.

Alonso made history last weekend when he drove an Alpine F1 car around the full Circuit de la Sarthe as part of a demonstration before the 2021 edition of the 24 Hours.

The two-time F1 champion raced at Le Mans twice during his World Endurance Championship campaign with Toyota and won the race both times.

Returning to more familiar territory for F1 at the Belgian Grand Prix on Thursday, Alonso said that Alpine had been able to swiftly adjust the car for the demands of the 8.5-mile circuit.

Alpine F1 Le Mans

“It could be fun for sure to race there,” he said when asked by The Race about the prospect and what it would require.

“I think it will not take too much in terms of preparation or engineering to go to tracks like Le Mans.

“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, probably they will have to change a few things about the track itself.

“It will be way too fast and way too narrow in some of the sections, on the straights.

“So potentially it would require some changes more on the tracks than basically from the F1 community.”

Fernando Alonso reckons it would not be difficult to adapt a Formula 1 car to race at Le Mans but the circuit is “too fast and narrow” in its current form. Alonso made history last weekend when he drove an Alpine F1 car around the full Circuit de la Sarthe as part of a demonstration before the 2021 edition of the 24 Hours. The two-time F1 champion raced at Le Mans twice during his World Endurance Championship campaign with Toyota and won the race both times. Returning to more familiar territory for F1 at the Belgian Grand Prix on Thursday, Alonso said that Alpine had been able to swiftly adjust the car for the demands of the 8.5-mile circuit. “It could be fun for sure to race there,” he said when asked by The Race about the prospect and what it would require. “I think it will not take too much in terms of preparation or engineering to go to tracks like Le Mans. “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, probably they will have to change a few things about the track itself. “It will be way too fast and way too narrow in some of the sections, on the straights. “So potentially it would require some changes more on the tracks than basically from the F1 community.” The full Le Mans layout is almost twice the length of Spa-Franchorchamps, F1’s longest current track and the host of this weekend’s race. Le Mans also only has FIA Grade 2 homologation with a Grade 1 certification required for F1 – so funding would be required for those upgrades from a safety perspective and to host the race itself. Alonso said he had to take it easy for much of the lap once he caught the other cars that were part of the demonstration but revealed that Alpine’s simulations reckoned a sub-three-minute lap would be possible in an F1 car. Toyota’s pole time for Le Mans this year, with its new Hypercar, was a 3m23.900s. “Unfortunately we could not complete the lap and see what times we can do and push a little with the car, it was more a demo lap,” said Alonso. “But even though it was very emotional. "I think the simulation says something under three minutes, 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 little bit tricky because the front tyres try to lock up and things like that. “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!”

The full Le Mans layout is almost twice the length of Spa-Franchorchamps, F1’s longest current track and the host of this weekend’s race.

Le Mans also only has FIA Grade 2 homologation with a Grade 1 certification required for F1 – so funding would be required for those upgrades from a safety perspective and to host the race itself.

Alonso said he had to take it easy for much of the lap once he caught the other cars that were part of the demonstration but revealed that Alpine’s simulations reckoned a sub-three-minute lap would be possible in an F1 car.

Toyota’s pole time for Le Mans this year, with its new Hypercar, was a 3m23.900s.

“Unfortunately we could not complete the lap and see what times we can do and push a little with the car, it was more a demo lap,” said Alonso.

Fernando Alonso Alpine F1 Le Mans

“But even though [it was a demo lap], it was very emotional.

“I think the simulation says something under three minutes, 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 little bit tricky because the front tyres try to lock up and things like that.

“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!”

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