The Daytona 24 Hours pretty much followed the story of Fernando Alonso's last few years as any hope of a decent result was ended with car problems
The 2018 Daytona 24 Hours has drawn to an end with the #5 Action Express Cadillac won the race in the hands of Christian Fittipaldi, Filipe Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa, smashing distance records in the process.
For Fernando Alonso however, it was pretty much the same story as it had been for the last three years of his Formula 1 career. For starters, the #23 Ligier wasn’t quite as quick in a straight line as the other prototypes - not ideal when most of the track is an oval. However, along with co-drivers Lando Norris and Phil Hanson things were looking good for a while. The car led on a couple of occasions, was able to run long stints (always a good thing in endurance racing) and at times was among the fastest cars on the track.
It looked for a while that they might be able to challenge for a podium - or maybe even more - but shortly before half distance Alonso encountered another familiar situation - poor reliability.
His Ligier suffered a braking problem which he had to pit to have fixed, dropping the car from the lead lap and genuine challenger to 25 laps down and out of it. Later on in the race the same thing happened again, although by that point it was a lost cause anyway, and the car finished in 38th place, a whopping 90 laps down on the winners.
The other United Autosports car (the one Paul di Resta was driving) had a relatively untroubled run to finish just off the podium in fourth, so even though the cars didn’t have the ultimate pace, a strong result was certainly possible.
Alonso’s car was also one of several to suffer punctures during the race. Exactly what was causing them is unknown, but it got so bad for last year’s winners in the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac that the team had to withdraw from the race on safety grounds.
A puncture did for Lance Stroll’s car as well as the flailing rubber caused some suspension damage which needed repairing, all of which meant that he and his ace co-drivers of Robin Frijns, Felix Rosenqvist and Dani Juncadella only finished 15th.
Despite plenty of punctures, spins and even a couple of small fires, the number of caution periods this year was incredibly low, which, combined with the reasonably high attrition rate, meant that it wasn’t the most exciting race. Ford dominated the GT Le Mans class right from the off and finished a comfortable 1-2, whilst Grasser Lamborghini took top honours in GT Daytona.
With Daytona done and dusted, the question now will be whether Fernando goes on and does Le Mans later this year. He previously said he was using this race to see how he felt about Le Mans, and after this weekend’s race said:
“We lost our opportunity here, but I have a positive outcome even with all the issues because I really did enjoy it a lot. I love driving and when you drive eight or nine hours in one race it’s much better than one. So it’s a very good feeling driving 24 hours.”