Fernando Alonso downplays his

Image via @alo_oficial

Fernando Alonso downplays his chances of Dakar success

Laying out the difference between Dakar and Formula 1, Fernando Alonso concedes he doesn’t feel “ready” to win rally’s toughest test.

Fernando Alonso downplays his

Image via @alo_oficial

Double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso will take to the Saudi Arabian desert in January but admits he’s not at “that level” needed to win the event.

Alonso, racing for Toyota, will be among the 351-strong participants at the 2020 Dakar rally, testing his mettle over 7,500 kilometres in Saudi Arabia.

Alonso highlights major differences between F1 and Dakar

After 17 years of racing single-seater cars in Formula 1 in a career that included two Drivers’ Championship titles and 32 race wins, Alonso will join fellow Spaniard Marc Coma in the cockpit of a South-African built Hilux for the 2020 Dakar rally.

The 38-year-old has spent time adjusting to his new ride throughout 2019, including a podium result at the Al Ula-Neom Cross-Country Rally in November.

It, however, hasn’t been all smooth sailing with Alonso crashing several times during the course of his training.

Labelling rallying as the “most extreme discipline in motorsport”, he told Motorsportweek: “It cannot be more far apart, Formula 1 and Dakar.

“Driving technique is completely different, you’re using both feet all the time in Dakar, while in single-seaters you are not even allowed to touch the brake while throttling else the fuel consumption will get very high.

“Reading the terrain and know you are facing every kilometre [something different], while in the circuit everything is optimised lap after lap.

“And the distance, we are used to having one hour and a half of concentration, and even you have time on the straights to relax, you have time to touch the steering wheel to do different things.

“While there [in rallying] every metre is new so the attention is on another level, for eight or nine hours every day, so it’s quite difficult to adapt.”

Spaniard downplays chances of success

But while Alonso will take to the Dakar dunes less than two months after his P3 at the Cross-Country Rally, he admits winning rally’s most prestigious event may be a step too far.

Instead he’s going to Saudi Arabia to enjoy the experience and who knows what the car-breaking rally may hold.

“If I go there to enjoy the experience, yes,” he said. “If I go there to make the most if it, yes. If I think on Dakar in terms of winning Dakar, I don’t feel ready.

“I’m perfectly aware of what my lack of experience, I think in other races that I attempt, Indy or Le Mans or Daytona, I felt quite competitive, in a level I could fight for victory.

“In Dakar I don’t think I’m at that level, I need to be the feet at the ground, but I will play a different strategy. I will not be the fastest but hopefully I will be in a good position at the end.”

Alonso maintains F1 door is still ‘open’

But while Alonso is trying his hand at other series, and has already confirmed he will make a third attempt at the Indianapolis 500 next year, he is still open to making a Formula 1 comeback.

Alonso walked away from F1 after the 2018 season, citing his disappointment over the lack of competition.

The Spaniard, like many drivers and fans, is hoping the new 2021 regulations will change that.

“Let’s keep it open for the future, maybe Formula 1 in 2021,” he told Sky Sports. “2021 is the reason why I keep open possibilities because maybe things mix a little bit with the new rules.

“Let’s see what opportunities come. Next year I will have a think.

“The reasons why I left in 2018 are still the same right now for me but maybe in 2021 there is a window there.

“We put on the car ‘Hasta Luego’ [at his last F1 race in 2018], which means see you later – we didn’t put ‘Adios’. It was always the plan that it could happen in 2021.”