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Alonso Doubts Daytona Debut Will Open Door for Other F1 Drivers

Fernando Alonso doubts his decision to enter the Rolex 24 will open the door for more F1 drivers to try sports car racing…

Photo: United Autosports

Fernando Alonso doubts his debut in the Rolex 24 at Daytona later this month will open the door for more Formula 1 drivers to try their hand at the sports car classic.

Two-time F1 world champion Alonso will make his sports car racing debut at in this month’s Florida endurance classic, racing for United Autosports as preparation for a possible entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Toyota in June.

Alonso will be joined in the race by fellow F1 driver Lance Stroll, who will make his second Rolex 24 appearance after debuting back in 2016.

The Spaniard’s ventures have led to a number of additional F1 drivers being linked with future sports car outings both at Daytona and Le Mans, but Alonso doubts his actions will open the door for others to follow.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “There is one already, Lance Stroll, racing with us. I only see him maybe doing this because he loves racing as well and he’s from Canada and it’s part of his culture as well, these kind of races and the American championships.

“The other guys? I doubt it. I doubt it because in Europe we normally focus everything on one championship.

“The teams, they became more and more professional. There are a lot of training camps, a lot of preparations, a lot of simulator time before the F1 winter testing starts, and it’s not easy for the drivers to go out of that one concept.

“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 and 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.”

Alonso’s interests outside of F1 have been encouraged by Brown, who operates as McLaren’s executive director as well as being the co-owner of United Autosports.

Without Brown’s open-mindedness, Alonso doubts he would have received permission to race at Daytona or feature in last year’s Indianapolis 500.

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

“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.”

Luke Smith is a British motorsport journalist who has served as NBC Sports’ lead Formula 1 writer since 2013, as well as working on its online sports car coverage.


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