Jimmie Johnson and Fernando Alonso finally got a taste of how the other side drives. After months of teasing and anticipation, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and the two-time Formula 1 world champion swapped rides at Bahrain International Circuit.
Alonso retired from F1 following the season finale, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, on Sunday, and Johnson and his family were on site to watch the racing star finish 11th in his final event in the series. The next day, they jumped in each other’s cars at the 3.363-mile course.
They each went out for an install lap in their own cars just to make sure everything was running well, and then Johnson took over the 2013 McLaren MP4-28 and Alonso got behind the wheel of a 2018 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
After seeing how they handled each other’s cars, Alonso called Johnson’s run “impressive,” adding, via ESPN.com:
“It was impressive,” Alonso said. “I think he was really gaining time every run he was doing, and sometimes you put new tyres on these cars for the very first time and you are not able to extract the grip because you miss a little bit the braking point here and there, or maybe you don’t maximise the grip available. But he was able to guess this extra grip that the new tyres is giving to you and extract that grip into lap time, so I was very impressed with that.”
Now that he’s done with F1, Alonso said his “full priority” is focusing on the 2019 Indianapolis 500, which he’ll run for the second time in May with McLaren. No word yet on if he’ll try an actual NASCAR race.
Johnson, on the other hand, is very interested in trying an open-wheeled car again. More via ESPN.com:
“Without a doubt. 2020 is my last year under contract with Hendrick, and I’ve been approached many times about the Indy 500,” he said. “I’m not overly excited about those fast ovals, but I think with my status and relationships I could put together some road course races in IndyCar. I’d look at anything.
“I’ve done sports-car racing in the past. I’ve finished second in the Rolex 24 a couple of times in the prototype division; I’d love to get back to doing that. Anything’s open. I’m far from done, I want to keep driving and hopefully I can find some good opportunities.”
Or perhaps the two champions would team up for the 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race at Daytona International Speedway, which is held in January. About that, Johnson told ESPN: “I would go anywhere to run with him in the same car, absolutely!”
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