Formula One had a week off before the season finale in Abu Dhabi, but Fernando Alonso sure didn’t.
Alonso on Tuesday got his first reps behind the wheel of the Le Mans Prototype 2 car that he’ll drive for United Autosports in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The two-time F1 world champion completed 300 miles during the session at Motorland Aragon in Alcaniz, Spain, according to sportscar365.
“I’m happy with everything — the car felt great and the team were fantastic,” Alonso was quoted as saying. “The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so (Tuesday) has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”
The test in United’s Ligier JS P217 Gibson was just the second time he’d ever driven a sports car, but it was the second time he’d driven one that week. The Spaniard got to participate in the World Endurance Championship’s rookie test Sunday in Bahrain, where he completed more than 100 laps in the Toyota TS050 Hybrid and improved his time by seven-tenths of a second.
Although Tuesday largely was about getting Alonso acclimated to the cockpit of the LMP2 racer, United Autosports co-owner Richard Dean praised him for how quickly he got up to speed.
“We shouldn’t be surprised that it took him no time at all to get used to the car and the circuit having never driven here,” Dean told sportscar365. “He immediately got down to really competitive times and set to work understanding the car and doing long runs and race distance stuff — hugely impressive.”
Alonso isn’t the only person who landed a drive with United because the team is co-owned by McLaren executive director Zak Brown. McLaren reserve driver Lando Norris also will compete at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 27-28, and the two will share their car with 17-year-old Phil Hanson.