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Alonso Hints at Le Mans Debut: “Many Possibilities” for 2018

McLaren F1 open to letting Fernando Alonso race at Le Mans in 2018…

Photo: Steven Tee/McLaren

Fernando Alonso has dropped strong hints that he would be interested in entering next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans as part of his bid to complete the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’, having also spoken to his McLaren Formula 1 team about the possibility.

The Triple Crown features the endurance classic at Le Mans, the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix, with Alonso winning the latter on two occasions.

Alonso began his bid to become just the second driver in history to win all three legs in May by entering the Indianapolis 500, and has made no secret of his desire to race at Le Mans one day.

Currently a free agent for next year, Alonso is currently weighing up his racing plans, but looks poised to keep racing full-time in F1 with McLaren.

Should he do so, with a more competitive car thanks to a fresh engine supply from Renault, Alonso confirmed earlier this week he would not enter the Indianapolis 500 again next year due to the clash with Monaco.

However, he said he would still like to further his bid for the Triple Crown next year, hinting at an interest in entering Le Mans.

“The Triple Crown is [a] clear target for me in the future, and there are three races there. If the Indy 500 is together with Monaco as we know, there is another one still to complete,” Alonso said.

“The Triple Crown is still ongoing at the maximum speed. If I remain in Formula 1, it’s because I believe I can win next year. That will ease the decision a lot because I will be in Monaco because I don’t want to lose any points there.

“There are three races, not only Indy. There are many, many possibilities to do a fantastic 2018.”

Speaking to reporters in Singapore on Saturday, McLaren Executive Director Zak Brown confirmed the team would be open to letting Alonso go to Le Mans, and had already discussed doing so.

“We’ve spoken about it. If it’s something he would like to do, in the right circumstances, we would be open to that,” Brown said.

“[But] it couldn’t compromise his Formula 1 racing program.”

With Le Mans taking place on June 16-17 next year, there is no clash with F1 as part of the FIA’s ongoing push to ensure calendar harmonization between its series.

Alonso would not be able to attend scrutineering on the preceding Sunday due to commitments at the Canadian Grand Prix, but would be able to complete it on the Monday, just as those in IndyCar did this year due to the race in Detroit.

He would also be able to take part in the Le Mans Test Day two weeks before the race, which falls between the F1 races in Monaco and Canada.

Only an LMP1 drive would be of interest to Alonso in his bid for overall victory, making Toyota the sole option for the two-time F1 World Champion.

The chances of this happening have improved following McLaren’s split with Honda – a rival Japanese manufacturer for Toyota – that was confirmed on Friday, with the British F1 team signing a deal to work with Renault next year.

Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon was asked at Spa in May about the possibility of signing Alonso, following speculation he could be in the frame for a Porsche drive, prior to its decision to quit LMP1.

“I think with a big discount in terms of salary! If he’s really looking only for winning…” Vasselon joked.

“If and when he will come to Le Mans, it will not be for the money. That’s for sure.”

It’s understood Toyota would be open to the possibility, but only if it continues its LMP1 program, with a decision set to be made by next month.

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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