Fernando Alonso ‘a little bit scared’ by Daytona 24 Hours debut

Formula 1


Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso won the F1 world title in 2005 and 2006

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso says he was “a little bit scared” when he suffered two brake failures at close to 200mph on his debut at the Daytona 24 Hours.

The Spaniard’s race was hit by multiple problems and he finished 38th with co-drivers Lando Norris and Phil Hanson.

Alonso, 36, said: “You arrive at the first corner and you’re at 300-310km/h, then you hit the brakes and there are no brakes. Luckily you have a short cut.”

He said his first taste of endurance racing was a “great experience”.

Alonso is tipped to compete in the classic Le Mans 24 Hours race with Toyota this year in addition to his F1 commitments with McLaren.

Alonso said it was “60:40” whether he did Le Mans this year, adding: “I don’t have any deadline. I would like to do it but the decision is not only on my side. So let’s see what happens.

“F1 is my first and only priority. If I do some extra races they will be always second priority, even Le Mans. You have to respect the race and take it seriously but always after McLaren.”

He added that his Daytona experience had made him “more prepared” for Le Mans.

“I experienced things that were new to me,” Alonso said. “Next time I jump in a prototype car, closed cockpit, I know the traffic situations, night driving, safety car. That was one of the goals for this event.”

Alonso’s United Autosports Ligier was in podium contention on Saturday night, after a strong stint in the wet by 18-year-old Englishman Norris, McLaren’s reserve driver this year.

But the car slipped from contention when Hanson suffered a puncture later in the night.

All hope of a strong result was lost when Alonso suffered his first brake failure, which consigned the car to the garage for 40 minutes.

It then suffered a throttle problem and another brake failure – again with Alonso driving – and the car eventually finished 36th.

The sister car, which former F1 drivers Paul di Resta and Bruno Senna shared with Swiss Hugo de Sadeleer, finished fourth.

The race was won by the Cadillac of Joao Barbosa, Filipe Albuquerque and former F1 driver Christian Fittipaldi.

Alonso said the problems suffered by his car, which finished fourth at Le Mans last year, were “a little bit of a surprise and a little bit unlucky”.

He added: “On the brakes you are a little bit scared, no doubt.

“At night, obviously you don’t clearly see the tyre wall or where the escape road is, so that was even more scary.”

He said he looked at the result as “a lost opportunity” but added: “I have a positive outcome even with all the issues.

“I love driving and when you drive eight or nine hours in one race it’s much better than one. So it’s a very good feeling driving 24 hours.”

He said Norris, who is racing in Formula 2 this season, had been “very impressive”, adding: “On slicks in wet conditions he recovered something like 33 seconds in 20 laps (to the leaders).”



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