McLaren racing director Eric Boullier believes Fernando Alonso’s likely appearances in the World Endurance Championship next year would help keep him at his best in Formula 1.
Alonso is expected to race for Toyota in next year’s WEC Super Season, with the main aim of winning Le Mans as part of his quest for the triple crown. While there is only one clash with the 2018 F1 calendar – with the 6 Hours of Fuji taking place on the same weekend as the United States Grand Prix in October – Boullier told RACER it is still not as distracting a program as it would be if Alonso did every other WEC race, a sentiment he expressed in November.
“First of all there is at least one clash next year anyway,” Boullier said. “At the end of the day it’s just three races plus Le Mans, so it’s not that much. He’s already competing in karting races everywhere all the time. He’s one of the drivers who needs to race, he needs to be constantly on it.
“A lot of drivers are like this, they’re real drivers if I can put it that way – they would race 50 weekends a year. It also keeps them fit, keeps them alert, keeps them reflecting well. If you don’t race enough you lose your sharpness.
“In the end I think it could actually be something good for him because it keeps him in a very competitive environment so that keeps him sharp for Formula 1.”
While Alonso will also compete at Daytona in January, Boullier believes teammate Stoffel Vandoorne needs to continue making F1 his sole focus at this stage of his career.
Asked if the interest around Alonso’s other racing interests – some of which are being tackled in conjunction with McLaren executive director Zak Brown’s United Autosports team – make it difficult for Vandoorne to feel he gets the same opportunities, Boullier replied: “No.
“I think it’s more about Fernando is a brilliant driver and for me is still the best driver today. He’s definitely the most complete driver so he can extract the best out of everything. He’s the reference and I think he’s good for Stoffel to have him as a reference because he shows him how to work, how to race and the approach he has.
“Fernando has enough experience now to allow himself to do something else and not be distracted, whereas today Stoffel still needs to work hard and learn Formula 1.”