Fernando Alonso said that his victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans yesterday “feels like a dream”, but he remains eager to rejoin the Formula 1 circus.
Alonso, alongside his #8 car team-mates Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima helped Toyota Gazoo Racing take their first ever overall victory at the Circuit de la Sarthe, one lap ahead of the sister #7 car. The success ensured that Alonso just needs an Indianapolis 500 victory to join Graham Hill in completing motorsport’s fabled “Triple Crown”.
“After my Le Mans experience it’s great to be staying in France and heading to Paul Ricard,” Alonso beamed.
“Winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans still feels like a dream and it was an incredible week. It’s finally sinking in now and I’m already looking forward to getting back in my car and going racing again.”
The Spaniard may not have to move countries to reach his next destination, but moves back to open-wheel racing for the returning French Grand Prix, the first at Paul Ricard for 28 years. Alonso said that whilst he has tested at the venue previously, he is excited about the new challenge of racing at the technical track.
“I’ve never raced at Paul Ricard in Formula 1, but I drove there in testing a few years ago and I’ve seen the designs of the new circuit configurations,” he said.
“I think it looks like it has the potential to be a mega track, and going to a new venue always makes things exciting, as we’re all in the same position learning its characteristics from scratch.
“It’s not often we get to drive on new tracks, or tracks that are new for most of us but already have a strong legacy behind them.”
The McLaren F1 Team enter Formula 1’s triple-header after two points-free weekends. Alonso saw a potential top ten finish at Monaco scuppered by gearbox failure, whilst exhaust gremlins ended a dire 300th Grand Prix for the 36-year-old in Canada. However, Alonso remains hopeful that the team can use the overtaking opportunities provided by the track’s layout to their advantage and start to claw back the points deficit to the fourth placed Renault Sport Formula 1 Team.
“From what we do know, it’ll be a tough race for the cars and drivers, and a tricky technical challenge to set the cars up,” Alonso projected.
“It does look like there are a few overtaking opportunities though, which should hopefully provide some exciting racing. After a couple of disappointing weekends, I hope we can bounce back in France with a more positive result.”