Alonso Completes 113 Laps in First Toyota LMP1 Test
The double world champion took part in rookie tests this past weekend at Bahrain.
Fernando Alonso completed his maiden LMP1 tests this past weekend with Toyota in Bahrain, initiating a potential partnership with the two for next year's 24 Hours of Le Mans. The two-time Formula 1 champion followed Sebastien Buemi in the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, allowing the team veteran to complete 10 shakedown laps before running 113 rounds of the circuit on his own. According to the Spaniard, he was content with his first day of practice where he finished just nine-tenths of a second off of Buemi's benchmark time.
Alonso participated alongside a field of other LMP1 rookie drivers including young stars Thomas Laurent and Pietro Fittipaldi. The latter managed the best time of the day in testing with 'Nando coming swiftly in second, impressing Toyota team bosses as well as himself. An eventual quickest run of 1:43.013 was enough to put Alonso within shouting distance of the Toyota team's average lap times in Bahrain, and as he later explained, that was good enough for his first time driving the Le Mans Prototype.
“It was a great day,” Alonso said in a statement provided by Toyota. “Testing an LMP1 car is always a nice thing for any racing driver because these cars are amazing to drive. They are very consistent throughout a stint which is a positive thing.
“I have wanted to test a car like this for a long time now and today I could achieve that so I am happy.”
Team technical director Pascal Vasselon then applauded Alonso's performance last weekend as well as Laurent, saying, “Both of them have done a very good job, very disciplined. No spins, no off-track, no damage on the car, which is the first target we give them when they jump into a TS050."
"So all in all, good. We’ve done obviously a bit more work with Fernando, so after getting familiar with the car he went this afternoon to do some tire testing, complementing what Mike [Conway] was doing on the other car ... Quite a good day. I think Fernando has achieved more than 100 laps, so more than during a Formula 1 weekend. All good," he said.
“We did not do any low-fuel runs, we did not do any qualifying runs. There was no trophy to win. We’ve done a full tank all day long and working as much as we could," he said. “I think he enjoyed it. But you have to ask him! I’m sure he has enjoyed it. He spent a lot of time already with the engineers. He’s very keen to understand our systems.”
No further testings have been confirmed between Alonso and Toyota. However, the world champion has made his intentions of driving at Le Mans clear, and by entering January's Daytona 24 by Rolex, he'll have at least one day-long race under his belt prior to the summer event at Circuit De La Sarthe.
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