In an Instagram Live ‘Question & Answer’ session with Bruno Vandestick, the two-time Le Mans winner and 2018-19 champion gave his thoughts on his WEC experiences and more.
Alonso took part in the WEC SuperSeason of 2018-19, uniquely hosting two 6H Spa events and two 24 Hours of Le Mans in the calendar.
Driving at a dominant capacity for the Toyota GAZOO Racing LMP1 team, he racked up 5 wins, 4 poles, and 7 podiums during the calendar’s eight races.
He also broke the all-time track record for Sebring International Raceway, a track well-known for its demanding bumps and untreated surfaces.
The Spaniard set the time of 1:40.124 in the FP3 session at the 2019 1000 Miles of Sebring. He surpassed Marcel Fassler’s 2013 lap time in an Audi R18 e-tron Quattro by nearly four seconds.
Seeing as WEC will not return there until 2021, his track record is likely to remain for the foreseeable future since the upcoming Le Mans Hypercars are not expected to be as fast as the LMP1s (specifically the hybrids).
When he announced his departure at the 2019 6 Hours of Spa, he mentioned that he would return to WEC and Le Mans in the future; this extended Q & A allowed him to expand on those thoughts and more.
“With endurance races, you have to balance reliability with performance,” he said describing the mindset to win in this motorsport discipline.
“You need to have a car that lasts for not (only) 24 hours, but 40 hours to make sure that (for) the 24 hours, you are in a safe range.
“You don’t push the car to the real limits on the curbs, on the braking points, (and) you have traffic so every lap is different.
“At Le Mans and endurance racing, you need to be creative because (on) every lap, you need to follow your instincts,” having also won the 24 Hours of Daytona last year for Wayne Taylor Racing.
When discussing the differences between his experience in an LMP1 hybrid and a Formula 1 car, he said: “I think the Toyota (LMP1) has better traction and more acceleration.”
“You have 1000 hp, with the hybrid technology, and you have four-wheel-drive, so there is no problem with the traction.
“At the exit of a slow-speed corner, you have that amount of power, that amount of traction, with the Michelin tyres that produce a very high (amount of) grip…”
In a separate interview last year, talking about the Michelin tyres, he expressed how you are able to push harder for longer since the tyres were designed to take that strain.
“Sébastien (Buemi) and Kazuki (Nakajima) have a lot of experience in endurance and they taught me a lot,” he said speaking fondly on his team-mates.
“If the team works better, it’s for your own benefit as well.
“We had so much fun together, they were amazing team-mates…That was the thing that I liked most in endurance – the team comradery.”
Alonso also gave a positive take towards the Le Mans Hypercar project.
“I think Hypercar is a nice project together with different solutions. I know the WEC is going through good progress now with IMSA,” following the announcement of the official Le Mans Daytona Hypercar regulations.
“There are a lot of things in the future that will boost endurance (racing) and I want to be a part of that,” he commented.
Throughout the Q-n-A, he opened up on his WEC journey, the competitiveness of Le Mans and much more.
He has stated that a decision for 2021 is set – he will announce his decision soon.
A full replay of the Q and A/Instagram Live is available via the ’24 Heures du Mans’ Youtube Channel.