Fernando Alonso says he is ‘as prepared as he could be’ ahead of his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut with Toyota Gazoo Racing.
The McLaren F1 driver will turn his first flying laps of the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe tomorrow at the official Test Day for the endurance classic on June 16-17.
During a roundtable interview at Le Mans, Alonso said that his primary objective for the test is to understand the aspects of driving the Toyota TS050 Hybrid that he has so far been unable to gauge through simulator running.
“I think I’m as prepared as I could be,” said Alonso.
“The real track is always a little bit different [to the simulator]. The judgment of the speed difference between cars in traffic is something that you develop only on the real car and only with a good number of laps. Tomorrow that’s the intention.
“It’s nice to have this test, not in the race weekend when time is a little bit limited.”
Alonso expects to have slightly more seat time than teammates Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, who are both gearing up for their seventh appearances at the event.
The trio claimed victory in the opening FIA World Endurance Championship race of the year at Spa last month, with Alonso bringing the No. 8 car home in front of the sister No. 7 machine.
“I saw the [Test Day] program and it’s quite even at the moment,” Alonso said.
“It’s not much to play around with because we need to go through the program and test some items in the car that we are interested in.
“I get some longer runs compared to them. I think we will end the day with more laps from me, but maybe 10% more or something like that.
“Obviously in my case, the first session will just be accommodating laps and learning the circuit. My team-mates will do all the work on the setup because they are up to speed.”
Toyota technical director Pascal Vasselon confirmed to Sportscar365 that Alonso is listed in both cars on the Test Day entry as a “special guarantee” so that he will complete his ten laps necessary to start the race.
“You never know what could happen to one car,” said Vasselon, “So he is listed on both cars to make sure that he does at least ten laps.
“Otherwise, he has a normal program. As long as everything goes as expected, he will only run in car No. 8.”
Energy Saving Necessary Amid Busy Schedule
Alonso explained that he is constantly trying to conserve energy as he begins one of the busiest stretches of his dual 2018 schedule.
The two-time F1 champion is currently in the second of seven consecutive motorsport weekends, which started with last week’s Monaco Grand Prix and moves through the Test Day, the Canadian GP, Le Mans, the French GP, the Austrian GP and the British GP.
He plans to fly out to Canada on Tuesday after his Test Day commitments, before traveling back to Le Mans next Sunday night after the F1 race.
“I am in normal energy saving mode all the time,” Alonso said.
“Yesterday when I got here, I tried to relax a little bit and do stuff with the team. I went early to bed. We have upstairs [in Toyota’s hospitality unit] some rooms for the drivers, so I was sleeping in a little bit until 11.
“Even if I didn’t sleep I was reading some documents about the steering wheel. I am never spending energy for free and I’m not doing things too exaggerated.”