July 27, 2021

Alonso: Harder to improvise in F1 than in WEC and IndyCar

Two-time world champion Alonso returned to F1 for 2021 with Alpine after spending the last two years exploring categories away from grand prix racing.

The Spaniard won the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice with Toyota in 2018 and 2019, as well as capturing the World Endurance Championship title.

He has twice raced at the Indianapolis 500, most recently in 2020 as part of his push to complete the Triple Crown of Motorsport, and also competed in the Dakar Rally last year.

Alonso embarked on exploring other categories in a bid to become more rounded as a racing driver, and found it easier to improvise outside of F1 due to the disciplined routine of a grand prix weekend.

“There are many things that you can learn from any other experience, away from Formula 1,” Alonso said.

“Because Formula 1 is very closed environment, you repeat the same thing every two weeks and the same exact routine every two weeks. Your driving style gets in a way the same for over the years, and you just follow in a way the instruction from your team.

“They are optimising everything in the car, and they are optimising as well your driving style, so they are telling you what to do – where to save the tyres, where to save the energy on the battery, where to perform the burnouts, how many to do before the start.

“Everything is so controlled that you are not able to improvise many things on a Formula 1 weekend.”

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Alonso explained how the multi-class and added teammate elements of endurance racing taught him new skills, as well as going to greater depths in race preparations for the Indy 500.

“In endurance racing, you have to be yourself, much more than [in] any other race car. You are finding traffic in different places on different laps, in different time of the day, for every single lap,” Alonso said.

“Every time you jump in the car, you have to share much more with your teammates. There is a lot more team work on endurance racing than Formula 1, so there are things that you are learning, and you are taking that different approach for your future adventures in motorsport.

“The same in IndyCar, I think the level of detail that you have to reach in terms of setup, in terms of preparation for the Indy 500 race, is much higher than any Formula 1 event.

“The cars are the same, and small details can affect the driving style, the performance, the overtaking opportunities. You have to anticipate some of the things that will happen in the next two or three laps.

“There are many lessons that you learn in different categories that hopefully you can apply in Formula 1, or I can apply in the future.”

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