When Alonso and Norris Came Close to Winning at Daytona

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When Alonso and Norris almost tasted success at Daytona

The upcoming Daytona 24 Hours is gearing up to showcase a lineup of former Formula 1 athletes transitioning to endurance racing.

Set to take place on January 27-28 at the renowned Daytona Speedway as part of the IMSA SportsCar Championship, this year’s 24-hour race will feature familiar names such as Jenson Button, Felipe Massa, and Romain Grosjean, alongside other notable former F1 stars like Juan Pablo Montoya and Martin Brundle, who have previously tasted victory at Daytona.

In 2018, the event witnessed the participation of an exceptional team led by double F1 world champion Fernando Alonso, who teamed up with Zak Brown’s United Autosports.

When Alonso and Norris Came Close to Winning at Daytona
When Alonso and Norris Came Close to Winning at Daytona (Credits: Motorsport)

Alonso’s decision to compete in the Daytona race was driven by his ambition to achieve the distinguished Triple Crown of Motorsport, having already triumphed at the Monaco Grand Prix. With an eye on the Le Mans 24 hours, Alonso considered the Daytona race as crucial preparation for his 2018 goals.

McLaren CEO Brown recalls the impromptu nature of Alonso’s decision, stating, “With Fernando, he chats about things and then suddenly announces what he wants to do. That’s exactly what happened.”

The race saw Alonso teaming up with emerging talent Lando Norris, the Formula 3 European Championship winner and dubbed McLaren’s ‘golden boy,’ and endurance racer Phil Hanson.

Despite starting in the 13th position in qualifications, the race took an unexpected turn for the United Autosports team. Alonso showcased his skills, climbing two ranks in the first five minutes. Norris, too, demonstrated his capabilities, leading the #23 car for eight rounds in challenging conditions.

However, setbacks followed, with Hanson facing a flat tire and Alonso experiencing brake issues.

The team’s efforts to recover were hampered, and they ultimately finished 38th overall and 13th in their specific category. Norris reflected on the race, acknowledging the team’s best efforts despite the unfortunate turn of events.

Notably, the 2018 Daytona race also featured Lance Stroll, partnering with Felix Rosenqvist, Daniel Juncadella, and Robin Frijns.

Stroll, fresh from his freshman year with Williams in F1, finished in 15th place overall, with Alonso’s team making progress but still not reaching fierce competition levels.

While Alonso’s focus remained on the motorsport triple crown, he temporarily left F1 after 2018.

Norris, his teammate at Daytona, continued his rise in motorsport, finishing second to George Russell in the Formula 2 standings and securing a permanent F1 racing seat with McLaren. At McLaren, Carlos Sainz became his teammate.


By Jayson O'Neil

Jayson is a car-o-holic, and you will often find him writing about cars & bikes here at DaxStreet. You can reach out to him at [email protected]

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