Fernando Alonso says he would welcome a race at Le Mans after a demonstration lap in his Formula One vehicle around the entire circuit. Following a “emotional” demonstration lap last weekend ahead of the 24 Hour race, Fernando Alonso has stated that Formula 1 cars would have no trouble running a full grand prix at Le Mans.
According to Fernando Alonso, the Le Mans Grand Prix would be “fun” for F1
The Alpine driver is credited with being the first to drive a Formula One vehicle down the Mulsanne Straight and around the La Sarthe Circuit in its entirety. The two-time Le Mans winner said it would be great to race over the complete circuit, but that the layout would need to be altered to limit speeds and expand the trajectories ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix. “Racing there might be a lot of fun,” Alonso remarked. “I believe that going to tracks like Le Mans will not necessitate a great deal of planning or engineering. I believe our car was practically equipped to perform that, that demo lap, in such a short amount of time, and it was near to a racing condition. But at those speeds and with such safety regulations, I’m not sure. They’ll have to adjust a few things: the track will be too fast, and some of the straights will be too tight; “so maybe, it will require some changes on track more than basically the F1 community.”
Both the complete Le Mans circuit and the permanent Bugatti segment are classified as Grade 2 tracks, one level below the Formula 1 Grade 1 criteria. Given the standards for Grade 1 accreditation, upgrading the entire circuit is a difficult task. For starters, the 8.46-mile track is significantly longer than the recommended maximum of 4.35 miles. When asked about the possibility of holding an F1 race in 2016, Pierre Fillon, president of the circuit’s proprietors, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, claimed the cost of upgrading the Bugatti circuit alone would be between 17-18 million Euros. Despite the interest of motor racing’s governing organization, the FIA, he stated the expenses could not be justified. In 2018 and 2019, Alonso won the Le Mans 24 Hours with Toyota. This year, he reappeared as part of an Alpine parade leading up to the event. He said, “It was incredibly special to be back in Le Mans.” “I’m referring to a French manufacturer competing in a French race with all of its history, as well as being the first Formula One car to compete at the Le Mans circuit. During qualifying for the 2018 race, Alonso’s Toyota TS050 set the fastest time of 3min 15.377sec. Despite losing tyre temperature on the lengthy straights, he believes an F1 vehicle would achieve a significantly faster time. He said, “The simulation says something under three minutes.” “Unfortunately, we were unable to complete the lap in order to assess what times we could achieve and how far we could drive the car: it was more of a demonstration lap. But, even so, it was a profoundly emotional experience.
I thought the long straights were a little unique for our tyres [and] vehicles, so the braking places after the long straights were a little hard because the front tyres tried to lock up and stuff like that, so if you really go for it and push it, it will be fairly stressful.” The only time Formula One raced in Le Mans was in 1967, when the permanent Bugatti Circuit segment held the French Grand Prix. The response was typified by Denis Jenkinson’s piece for Motor Sport. Jenkinson described the track, which ran through the entire circuit car park, as “a driving school circuit perhaps, but not a Grand Prix circuit by European standards, or even by British standards.” “The famed French Grand Prix was called ‘The Grand Prix of the Car Parks’ before it took place.” The “farce” race was won by Jack Brabham, who never raced again, although the circuit now hosts the MotoGP French Grand Prix.
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