Motor Sport's weekly debrief


Alonso’s McLaren ultimatum, remembering F1 at the Glen, a rider-eye view of the TT and whose helmet designs does Zak Brown keep in his office?

Formula 1

Alonso issues McLaren ultimatum 

Enduring a third troubled year in a row, Fernando Alonso’s future at McLaren is always under question. With fifth place the best result to show from his return to the British team, and having sniffed victory at America’s biggest race a fortnight ago, it seems the Spaniard’s remarkable patience may finally have come to an end. 

“We have to win,” Alonso insisted as he returned to the F1 paddock in Montreal. He went on to set a loose deadline of September for McLaren to return to winning ways if he is to stay with the languishing team. With zero points and only one finish on the board for Alonso this season, McLaren look hard pushed to keep hold of its star Spaniard.

Kubica back behind the wheel of an F1 car

After a six-year absence on the comeback trail from injury, the popular Robert Kubica has returned to the seat of an F1 car. Piloting Renault’s 2012-spec racer, Kubica completed 115 laps of the Valencia circuit in a test that Mark Hughes describes as ‘far more than just a nice day out.’

It is the first time the Grand Prix winner has been in an F1 car since his terrible rally crash in 2011. He is said to have been rapid, quicker even than test driver Sergey Sirotkin for whom the test was initially meant.

Is a Kubica comeback on the cards? Mark Hughes discusses

Sports cars

Toyota fastest at Le Mans Test Day as LMP2 shows huge speed

Toyota locked out the top of the timesheets at the official Le Mans Test Day last weekend, as the world’s top sports car teams took to the Circuit de la Sarthe for the first time this year. Continuing his impressive show of speed, it was former F1 racer Kamui Kobayashi who headed the session in front of his Toyota team-mates Kazuki Nakajima and José María López. Earl Bamber led the Porsche challenge in fourth.

LMP2 showed astonishing speed with last year’s class winners Signatech Alpine fastest, eight seconds quicker than last year’s LMP2 pole and ahead of LMP1 privateer team ByKolles. The test, mandatory for new cars and competitors, sets the scene for next weekend’s race.

Le Mans Test Day in pictures


Rossi unhappy with MotoGP’s Thai round

Valentino Rossi has expressed his dissatisfaction over proposals for a MotoGP race in Thailand. Returning from a visit to the Chang International Circuit, which has recently hosted World Superbikes and the WTCC, the Italian described the track as ‘very boring’ with not enough corners and several long straights.  

Rossi was also concerned that the track’s location, 250 miles from the country’s capital, would make it challenging for fans and teams to get to. Plus, with the under-construction Kymi Ring in Finland also scheduled to feature on MotoGP’s calendar in 2018, a number of riders have opposed the calendar growing behind its current 18 race schedule.

Have a question about this weekend’s MotoGP in Spain? Ask Mat Oxley


Menu to make rallycross debut

Double BTCC champion Alain Menu is set to make his rallycross debut at the British rallycross season-finale at Croft, the British Rallycross Grand Prix. The Swiss touring car ace will compete alongside Team BMR boss Warren Scott, for whom Menu last raced in the 2015 BTCC Championship.

Scott is competing in British Rallycross Championship this year having stepped aside from BTCC driving duties to focus on running the BMR Subaru squad.

Hall of Fame

Motor sport’s greats honoured

Motor sport’s great and good gathered at the Royal Automobile Club, Woodcote Park on Wednesday night to induct six more stars from motor racing’s past and present into the Motor Sport Hall of Fame. Nigel Mansell, Brian Redman and Murray Walker were among the most notable attendees, the latter of whom received the very first Inspiration Award for his services to the sport.

Bruce McLaren’s M6A and the MV Agusta of John Surtees were among the stunning machines that took a high-speed run up the club’s iconic drive.

Read the full Hall of Fame report

Three things we didn’t know last week

1) Algarve circuit in F1 comeback talks

Slots on the F1 calendar are in high demand. Alongside an increasingly exotic array of flyaway races, France and Germany are to make much-anticipated returns to the F1 circus in 2018 and now Portugal has thrown its hat into the ring too.

Portugal last hosted a Grand Prix in 1996 at Estoril, near Lisbon, but Liberty Media is said to be in very early talks with owners of the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, a popular F1 testing venue near Portimão opened in 2008.

2) Eddie Jordan thinks Mercedes will “pull the plug” on F1 programme

Since retiring from team management and taking up TV punditry, Eddie Jordan has not been afraid to speculate. When Jordan predicted in 2012 that Lewis Hamilton would leave life-long employer McLaren for Mercedes, it seemed an outlandish claim, but he proved to be spot on. 

Questioned by Auto Bild if Sebastian Vettel was likely to switch from the Scuderia to Mercedes in 2018, the Irishman responded: “no”, arguing Mercedes will probably “pull the plug” after next season, staying only as an engine supplier. Toto Wolff was quick to rubbish such “mischievous speculation.”

3) Zak Brown keeps two racing helmets in his office

In its times of trouble, you can’t blame McLaren for looking to the future and it seems that is exactly what executive director Zak Brown is doing. The Californian told Reuters that he keeps two racing helmets in his office display cabinet, one in the famous colours of Fernando Alonso and the other in the colours of the team’s much-coveted junior driver Lando Norris.

With four titles already to his name aged just 17 and currently second in the European F3 points standings, Norris was the most recent addition to McLaren’s young driver programme. Brown told Reuters that “Lando is a world champion of the future with us.”

One video you should watch

Full gas down Bray Hill | Onboard at the Isle of Man TT

With average lap speeds of 130mph, we all know that the Isle of Man TT is fast, but new 360-degrees rider-eye cameras make watching the spectacle all the more terrifying. Charging down the ultra-fast Bray Hill section of the island, here is an adrenaline-fuelled onboard from the Superstock race with Horst Saiger. 

From the archive

The Glen’s glory years

For two decades F1 raced at the ever-popular Watkins Glen circuit. Nestled at the southern tip of Seneca Lake in New York State, its undulations and sweeps through autumn-leaved trees were a favourite with drivers and fans alike. Often closing the F1 season, it’s F1 tenure came to an end in 1980 but for many F1’s years at the Glen mark its heyday in North America.

Read the full feature from our archive

Your weekend of motor sport

Single seaters

Formula 1: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Canada

Formula E: Berlin, Germany

Sports cars

British GT: Silverstone, United Kingdom

ADAC GT Masters: Spielberg, Austria


MotoGP: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain

Isle of Man TT: Isle of Man

Rally and Rallycross

WRC: Sardinia, Italy

World RX: Hell, Norway

Touring cars

BTCC: Croft, United Kingdom

TCR: Salzburgring, Austria

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