Fernando Alonso eyes gains after ‘least important qualifying of my life’

Fernando Alonso remains confident that United Autosports can find more pace in race trim after he qualified in 13th position for this weekend’s Daytona 24 Hours. Alonso has linked up with United Autosports – the outfit co-owned by McLaren chief Zak Brown – for the endurance event, with a view to using the outing as preparation for a potential Le Mans tilt.

Fernando Alonso

Alonso was assigned duties to qualify the No. 23 Ligier PS217 and clocked the 13th best time, albeit within a second of the quickest lap, recorded by Wayne Taylor Racing’s Renger van der Zande.

Alonso downplayed the deficit, citing the length of time available in which to recover lost ground.

“The first two or three laps, you just try to survive,” said Alonso, reflecting on his qualifying stint.

“You know, the grip is very low, with no tyre blankets; the car is moving around, and you try to build the temperature slowly, lap after lap, and then when you feel that it’s time to push, you start taking some extra risk.

“The last two or three laps, you know, the last two opportunities of this qualifying, and you attack what you think is the maximum, knowing that it’s a 24-hour race, so this is probably the least important qualifying of my life, you know, until now.

“Normally I have 60 laps or 70 laps to recover what I may have done in qualifying, and on Saturday we have 24 hours. The qualifying was not the key point of this weekend hopefully.”

Alonso added: “I’ve been running not much in the tests and [on Thursday]; I was happy with the laps and more or less happy with the balance.

“We still need to improve a little bit to find a little bit more speed, but in general I think we did a good job.”

Fellow Formula 1 driver Lance Stroll will start from sixth place overall, with the Jota Sport-run Jackie Chan entry qualified by team-mate Robin Frijns.

Source: Motorsport Week