Alonso: Le Mans ‘too narrow and fast’ for F1

Date published: August 31 2021 - Henry Valantine

Fernando Alonso runs a Formula 1 car around Le Mans

After driving the first lap of Le Mans in a Formula 1 car in history, Fernando Alonso does not feel the circuit is suited to F1 machinery.

The two-time former World Champion took to the Circuit de la Sarthe in an Alpine-branded Renault F1 car in a celebration of Alpine’s motorsport offerings in the build-up to the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours.

The world-famous track, which is a part purpose-built, part public-road circuit, is almost double the length of Spa-Francorchamps – and Formula 1 racing has never taken place there.

Former Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi and his Toyota team-mates took overall victory in the Hypercar class when the race took place.

Kobayashi himself set the overall lap record at the track back in 2017, going around the 8.5-mile circuit in 3:14.791 in qualifying. Alonso says F1 cars would be able to go significantly faster than that time, but he does not feel the circuit would suit having a grand prix held there.

“I think the simulation [lap time] says like something under three minutes,” Alonso told reporters in Belgium, quoted by Motorsport.com. “But then you have to execute the lap. And it was not that easy because honestly with the F1 car, I felt the long straights were a little bit unusual for our tyres, our cars.

“The braking points after the long straights were a bit tricky because the front tyres tried to lock up and things like that. So if you really go for it and you push, it will be quite stressful.

“So in a way, I was happy it was just a demo lap!”

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Alonso, a two-time winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours, did not hang around when he ran his demonstration, opting to push himself rather than trundle around for the fans.

While he said the car was set up to go quickly around the Circuit de la Sarthe, he does not feel the track in its current state could host a race in the near future.

“It could be fun for sure to race there. I think it will not take too much in terms of preparation or engineering to go to tracks like Le Mans,” he said.

“Even with very short time, I think our car was basically prepared to do that demo lap. And it was close to a race situation.

“But I don’t know, at those speeds and talking about safety standards, we will probably have to change a few things on the track itself.

“It would be way too fast and way too narrow in some of the sections on the straights. So potentially it would require some changes, more on track than basically from the F1 community.”