While Fernando Alonso prepares to race in this weekend’s Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, he already has one eye on the first round of the World Endurance Championship starting next week.
Alonso is embarking on an ambitious dual F1-WEC program across the 2018–19 seasons that will see him undertake all eight rounds of the endurance series with Toyota alongside his F1 commitments with McLaren.
The start of his hybrid calendar is a taxing one. This weekend’s grand prix in Baku will be the first of nine races in 11 weeks, including the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
Despite the almost unprecedented workload for a modern-day top-tier racing driver, the Spaniard was calm and collected in Azerbaijan on the eve of his trying three-month stint.
“I’m as prepared as I can be,” he said. “Obviously it’s quite busy now in the next couple of weeks. We’ll see if we can make a podium this weekend, make a podium next weekend – that would be even better.
“Quite looking forward, it will be a new experience, and hopefully a good one.”
Alonso revealed changing his approach to rest will be key to managing his energy levels and performing at his optimum every weekend.
“I’m in energy-saving mode every day!” he said. “I planned to go to the gym and have a little bit of exercise this morning. I woke up, I was not feeling 100 percent – I was 90 percent – so today I did nothing, I stayed a little bit more in bed.
“Obviously I want to be 100 percent on Sunday here, I need to be 100 percent next Sunday, 100 percent the Sunday after that in Spain, 100 percent at Le Mans. It’s definitely a very tight calculation of the training program and how you fly, how you rest, which planes you take, what food you eat.
“You try to think two weeks ahead, the energy you will need in two weeks’ time. It’s not a short-term preparation; it’s a long-term preparation.”
The physical trials are being made worthwhile by Alonso’s approach to motor racing as a discipline, which he’s made a conscious effort to broaden in recent years, most notably with his entry into last year’s Indianapolis 500 with Andretti Autosport and McLaren.
The two-time Formula 1 champion says he’s gained a better perspective on the motorsport landscape by branching out to new categories.
“I think sometimes here in Formula 1 you live in a very small world,” he said. “You think that winning here … will put you in a better level or you are better than other drivers.
“I think motorsport in general is a very big world. There are very talented drivers in go karts, in Formula 3, in Japan, in WEC, in Indy – it’s very challenging if you want to beat all of them.
“I think doing Indy or WEC or other races, I challenge myself much more, and you become a better driver.”