Fernando Alonso says the incredible level of access enjoyed by the fans at the Daytona 24 Hours would simply be “unthinkable” in Formula 1.
Alonso kicks off his 2019 season this weekend in Florida where he’ll be racing a Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac in the opening round of the IMSA Weather Tech Sportscars Championship.
The Spaniard tackled the US endurance classic in 2018 with Zak Brown’s United Autosports LMP2 squad, but this year the 37-year-old F1 retiree will be in with a chance to win outright with Wayne Taylor’s front-running squad.
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Two weeks ago, Alonso reacquainted himself with Daytona’s unique atmosphere during the Roar before the Rolex 24 test, and once again the fans came out in drives.
“There were a lot of good moments last year and already this year a couple of kids were even jumping in the car at one point,” said Alonso, speaking to Autosport.
“They get really close to the teams, to the drivers, to the cars. They can even touch the car if they want.
“It’s just something unthinkable in Formula 1 or racing in Europe, so I think that’s the nice part of this atmosphere and this race.
“I know it will be even bigger with all the fans here and how close they are on pitlane as well.
“When you jump in the car, you’re still signing autographs and taking pictures even with the helmet on, waiting for the car to come to pit lane.
“Sometimes you need to tell them you are in a critical moment and you should be ready to jump in.
“But at same time if you embrace that and enjoy that, it is a very nice event and very nice emotion to see all the passion from the fans when they see the cars.”
Alonso will be sharing his Cadillac ride with Jordan Taylor, Renger van der Zande and with his Toyota team mate Kamui Kobayashi.
I definitely feel I am in a much better position this year compared to last year,” said Alonso.
“Last year, this was my first US sportscar race and my first closed-cockpit experience and definitely this year, I’m ready to enjoy it a bit more and use the experience of my first WEC season as well.
“Everything is much more open than racing in Europe. The target this year is definitely to be more competitive on the track and I’m happy.”
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