Alonso: Fortuitous Toyota Le Mans win like payback for bad F1 luck
|By Pablo Elizalde, Jacobo Vega||Monday, June 17th 2019, 10:04 GMT|
Fernando Alonso has suggested that the late twist at Le Mans 24 Hours that handed victory to the #8 Toyota crew acted as a form of payback for his missed chances in Formula 1.
The #7 Toyota, driven by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez, was on course for victory, having dominated proceedings, until it picked up a puncture with one hour to go.
A sensor issue meant Toyota changed the wrong tyre when Lopez pitted, and he was forced to complete a slow lap before returning to the pits, relinquishing the lead to the #8 car.
The #8 car, raced by Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi, remained at the front through to the finish, securing the win for the second successive year.
Alonso accepted that the #8 crew "maybe didn't deserve the victory" but expressed the result still had to be enjoyed, pointing to the misfortune he endured during stages of his Formula 1 career.
"To win two of two in Le Mans is something incredible," said Alonso.
"These kinds of races are like a rollercoaster of emotions, sometimes you are two minutes behind, sometimes you are leading.
"It was a shocking race. We didn't have the pace to win the race, the #7 car was quicker than us for 24 hours and we didn't deserve the victory maybe, but we were lucky and it helped us to get the victory.
"In other occasions it took us off some F1 championships and they are tough moments when you are on one side and happy moments when you are on the other side.
"The good luck was on our side but other races or F1 championships were gone inexplicably and we have to enjoy to be on this side."
Alonso said he had been prepared to be content with the runner-up position in the race, given the pace advantage the #7 car held through the event.
"At Le Mans things always happen and the last lap is always never-ending," Alonso added.
"The team has the experience of 2016 as well, they've lost the race in the last minute and all the team has this always in mind.
"You have to be always calm but I was happy with the second position because it was what we deserved on track.
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"I was in the motorhome eating something [when Lopez's puncture happened] and I saw the #7 car was very slow on track.
"We went to the box to see what happened and it was a puncture, and this is condemning you to the second place, no doubt.
"You can never give up, every lap is important.
"Even if you're two minutes behind the lead, you need to do good laps and if the difference is two minutes this is better than two minutes and 10 seconds, because if your rival has a puncture or whatever and loses two minutes and 10 seconds you can be in front or behind.
"The race is 24 hours and 5500 kms."