Alpine explain stance on Alonso return to Le Mans

Date published: March 7 2021 - Jon Wilde

Fernando Alonso (right), Sebastien Buemi (centre) and Kazuki Nakajima celebrate their 2019 Le Mans 24-Hour Race victory

Alpine have no plans to get F1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon involved in their Le Mans programme for the foreseeable future.

Alonso is a two-time winner of the Le Mans 24-Hour Race, in 2018 and 2019 for Toyota, the first of those years when he was still racing in Formula 1 with McLaren.

But the Spaniard should not expect to try and make it three victories in three appearances at the famous endurance event while his F1 comeback with Alpine is in progress.

An Alpine hypercar programme is under way and they will be entering the 2021 Le Mans 24-Hour Race – which was recently postponed from its usual mid-June date until August in the hope of a crowd being able to attend – with the A480.

That car is set to make its debut at the World Endurance Championship opener, the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, on May 1 with Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Matthieu Vaxiviere the intended drivers.

According to Alpine’s new CEO, Laurent Rossi, none of that trio ought to be concerned their place will come under threat from Alonso or Ocon any time soon.

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“At the moment, they are focused on Formula 1 and only on Formula 1,” said Rossi of Alonso and Ocon, quoted by Motorsport-total.com.

“That is a lot of work. We are not ruling out the possibility that some of them might pull out under certain circumstances at some point, but at the moment we are not mixing the two series.

“We cannot afford to create something like a distraction for the drivers. If it turns out to be feasible we could consider it, but that’s not the plan today.”

The rescheduling of Le Mans would have created an opportunity for Alonso – more likely than Ocon because of his previous experience – to race, had it potentially been on the table.

Ocon is not averse to a Le Mans tilt in the future, however, saying: “It’s not the plan at the moment. Our target is definitely Formula 1, and 200% of that.

“But yes, if the opportunity comes one day and then we discuss it, the plan, with Alpine, then maybe, but it’s not what we are focusing on now.”

Le Mans 2021 was originally scheduled for June 12-13, clashing with the Canadian Grand Prix, but has now been moved to August 21-22 which is the last weekend of the F1 summer break.

This provides a greater chance of spectators being allowed to attend on the basis that the COVID-19 vaccination mission will have eased the health pandemic sufficiently to reduce the need for social distancing.

Charles Leclerc recently said he would be interested in driving at Le Mans when Ferrari launch their hypercar project in 2023.

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