Fernando Alonso headed to Le Mans on Sunday hoping for a much better 24 hours in France next weekend than anything Canada could offer him during his milestone 300th Formula 1 grand prix after the double world champion retired his McLaren for the second race in a row while he had been running in a points-scoring position.
Without a Formula 1 victory in five years, and with a team that have not won since 2012 and are still struggling to get anywhere close to their glory years, Alonso was not about to dwell much on Montreal.
“Le Mans!” the driver said when asked after Sunday’s race what he wanted to talk about. “I’m flying tonight to Le Mans and from tomorrow it’s another experience there and hopefully a good race for us.”
“We are also leading the World Endurance Championship after the race in Spa and we are definitely focused on that right now after the retirement of today.”
Alonso is driving for Toyota Gazoo Racing at Le Mans, with the Japanese marque the only major manufacturer in the top category of the French sportscar classic. He shares a car with Switzerland’s Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima.
The Spaniard set the fastest lap in official testing a week ago at the legendary Sarthe circuit, after winning on his debut in Belgium, and will be back in the car for qualifying on Wednesday and Thursday at Le Mans.
On Sunday, in Montreal, the 36-year-old had been fighting for points when an exhaust problem forced him to retire on lap 41, “It’s sad, frustrating and I’m disappointed with this result. We weren’t competitive this weekend. We need to find more performance in the car and a way to become competitive.”
McLaren are fifth overall in the standings, but have fallen further behind fourth-placed Renault and are way off the Red Bull team who are the benchmark Renault-powered team.