Alonso to compete in WEC
Fernando Alonso will race at the next two twenty-four hours of Le Mans as well as the 2018-19 World Endurance Championship. McLaren has agreed to allow him to race in all races which do not clash with Formula One.
McLaren and Toyota have reached a deal to allow him to compete in every race with the exception of the six hours of Fuji in October which clashes with the United States Grand Prix. However, both teams stress that they are ‘in full agreement that Formula 1 remains their shared top priority’.
Alonso told Sky Sports “I’ve never been shy about my aim of winning motorsport’s ‘Triple Crown’ – the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. We tried for Indy last year, came close, but just missed out.”
“This year, I have the chance thanks to McLaren to race for the win at Le Mans. It is a big challenge – much can go wrong – but I am ready, prepared and looking forward to the fight.”
The announcement means that Alonso will race for five consecutive weekends between the tenth of June and eighth of July. With the Canadian GP, 24 Hours of Le Mans, French, Austrian and British Grand Prix’s due to take place.
Alonso’s decision comes days after he made his debut in endurance racing at the Dayonta 24 Hours.
The season begins with the Six Hours of Spa on May 5, the weekend between Azerbaijan and Spanish GPs. The prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours then takes place on the weekend of June 16-17, with round three taking place at Silverstone during F1’s August summer break.
In October, the Spaniard told Sky “I would race every weekend in any car in any country.”
McLaren believes the dual racing schedule will not detract from their top priority of returning to the front of the F1 field this year. Meanwhile, Toyota has confirmed Alonso’s team-mates will be former F1 drivers Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.
Sirotkin was “best driver available” – Lowe
Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe says Sergey Sirotkin was “the best driver available” to fill the seat alongside Lance Stroll this season.
Sirotkin who was backed by Renaults and brings a financial package worth around £15million emerged as the favourite to replace Felipe Massa in the Grove-based team following a strong showing in the Abu Dhabi test.
Robert Kubica, Paul di Resta, Daniil Kvyat and Pascal Wehrlein were among the other contenders for the drive. Lowe says that the team choose him because he was the best driver available. He told Motorsport.com “We selected him as the best driver available to us, bar none.”
“We’re confident that he will be very quick, very consistent, very calm in his working – and I think these qualities will take him a long way, to do really well in this championship.” He says the team has not taken a gamble but admits that there are some disadvantages.
Last year, Stroll struggled against his more experienced teammates during the early races of the campaign – but Lowe believes there is no reason why Sirotkin should endure a difficult start this year.
“We don’t want to drive too much expectation, but we’re confident that Sergey will drive well, he’s shown himself able to do that, in our car and also in series in the past.”
Bottas admits to unnatural driving
Valtteri Bottas admits he was overthinking and began to drive unnaturally when his first season fighting for a championship began to fall away from him.
While his teammate Lewis Hamilton won four of the first five races to take control of the championship following the summer break, Bottas failed to match Hamilton because he was unable to get the Mercedes to suit his driving style.
However did take pole in Brazil and won the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi, but the Finn has admitted that poor run of for was mentally draining. He told Motorsport.com “After struggling quite a lot for a couple of races, it wasn’t easy mentally because I was quite confused in the beginning – like ‘what’s going on?’.”
“Then also when you need to change some things with your driving style and need to adapt to many different things suddenly you realise it’s not that simple. Then you easily overthink things and then it becomes less natural driving. But it’s going to a much better direction.”
Bottas says he learnt massively from those difficult races and drove better following the dip in form. Despite the change in regulations, the Finn told Motorsport.com “After struggling quite a lot for a couple of races, it wasn’t easy mentally because I was quite confused in the beginning – like ‘what’s going on?’.”
“For sure you also start to doubt what you’re doing. Then also when you need to change some things with your driving style and need to adapt to many different things suddenly you realise it’s not that simple. Then you easily overthink things and then it becomes less natural driving.”
Bottas says he has learnt massively from those difficult races. The sport underwent major changes in aerodynamic regulations for 2017, Bottas believes the fundamental characteristics of the Mercedes remained consistent to allow them to take a fourth drivers and constructors championship.
Bottas added that while Hamilton’s team familiarity and natural pace had been factors in the gap between them in 2017, the now-four-time champion’s work ethic also deserved praise.
“I always knew that he’s really talented for sure, and he’s quick in any circumstances always – he just goes in the car and he’s very quick,” said Bottas of Hamilton.
Toro Rosso change launch plans
Toro Rosso has changed their launch plans for the teams 2018 car the STR13. The Italian team had planned to launch the car on the eve of pre-season testing on the twenty-fifth of February but that will now happen on the following day.
Toro Rosso is the only team to confirm they will wait until testing to reveal its 2018 challenger, although Force India, Haas and Red Bull have not yet announced their plans.
Australia promoter Rob Walker dies
The promoter of the Australian Grand Prix Rob Walker has died aged seventy-eight. Walker was one of the most influential race promoters and was one of Melbourne’s most successful businessmen.
The city tasked him with putting together a bid to lure the race away from Adelaide, which proved successful. The city has held the race ever since with Walker serving as chairman for almost two decades. Walker was also one of the outspoken promoters often defending Bernie Ecclestone when he was in difficulty.
Walker also served as the chairman of the Formula One Promoters’ Association (FOPA) for several years, before stepping down from his responsibilities in Melbourne in 2015 due to ill health.
At the time he was heavily critical of the new turbo hybrid regulations, which he believed did not deliver what fans wanted from F1. The death of Walker has drawn tributes for many local politicians, who praised the influence he had had on Melbourne.
Former Premier Jeff Kennett offered his tribute, saying the Victoria state would miss him greatly. Kennett said “Without Ron Walker Melbourne, Victoria, would not be what it is today. Through commerce, philanthropy, public service, freely given for decades.”
Raikkonen reveals helmet
Kimi Raikkonen has revealed his new helmet for the 2018 season on Instagram. The Finn is new to social media and only joined the photo-sharing platform in December.
Among posts of his family and training regime, he has now revealed his new helmet design with the simple caption: “This protects my head in 2018.”
The design follows the same colour scheme of red, black and white he has used since re-joining Ferrari in 2014 but also features some blue.