A day may come when Fernando Alonso competes in a NASCAR race.
But before that dream can become a reality, the Formula One star has a lot of work to do.
Alonso swapped cars with NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson on Monday at the Bahrain International Circuit. And after taking Johnson’s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for a few laps, the 37-year-old Spaniard spoke about the difficulties of driving a stock car.
“I think I was very far away from a very good lap,” Alonso said, via ESPN’s Laurence Edmondson. “Driving style, it was still not very clear to me what is the best way to perform a lap.
“I found a lot of problems on braking, because the car has very poor retardation because of the weight of the car and the steel brakes. I think they behave very differently compared to the ones I am used to, and traction, these tires with the amount of power that those cars have, it is very difficult to manage, so in first gear, second gear, third gear you are still spinning the tires.
“I didn’t know if it was better to go full throttle and spin the tires and really move forward or control with the throttle and maybe lose a little bit of performance on exit. So at the end, I think … it is not so clear for me even after one day what will be necessary on these cars.”
As for Johnson, it’s safe to say the seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion enjoyed his time in the borrowed 2013 McLaren MP4-28.
“Literally on the first outing, my helmet was trying to leave my head, and I was staring at the microphone in my helmet it was so high!” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘I don’t want to stop but I think I should.’ ”
Here are some sights and sounds from the highly anticipated ride swap:
And here’s some reaction from both drivers:
Of course, everyone wants to know what the future holds for the two racing legends.
Alonso, who just wrapped up his final season in F1, hasn’t said what his next move is, but he has indicated he’s far from done as a professional driver. With victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the F1 Monaco Grand Prix already under his belt, he only needs an Indianapolis 500 win to complete motorsport’s Triple Crown. Alonso long has been rumored to be interested in jumping to the Verizon IndyCar Series, and his debut last year at the Brickyard was promising, to say the least.
But what about a NASCAR cameo?
“I am trying to convince him he should do a road course race in NASCAR,” McLaren CEO Zak Brown said, via Edmondson. “He’s not agreeing to it yet, but I am going to work on him a little longer!
“He is mega quick and has also never driven anything like it, so I think it shows when you have got world champion drivers and give them a steering wheel and give them a race car, then it doesn’t take long for them to get up to speed.”
As for Johnson, the 43-year-old’s contract with HMS is up after the 2020 season, but he, too, has hinted his racing career will continue for years to come. A move to IndyCar, in particular, is looking increasingly likely.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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