Fernando Alonso’s jubilation on Sunday turned to despair fewer than 24 hours after being crowned winner of the Six Hours of Silverstone as both Toyotas were disqualified from the latest round of the World Endurance Championship.
The Spaniard was crowned race winner alongside teammates Sebastian Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima in the No 8 Toyota, finishing ahead of the sister No 7 car of Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway.
But race organisers confirmed on Monday that both cars had been disqualified from the final standings due to their front skid blocks deflecting more than the legal limit.
Toyota have put this down to the damage inflicted on their cars by the Silverstone kerbs, but the reasoning was dismissed and disqualifications upheld, meaning the No 3 Rebellion of Gustavo Menezes, Thomas Laurent and Mathias Beche inherited the race victory that moves them to within just two points of the No 8 Toyota team at the top of the drivers’ standings.
“Both cars suffered damage to their respective front floor areas during the race due to impacts against the new kerbs at Silverstone,” said Toyota in a statement.
“Regrettably, this also caused both cars to fail deflection tests in post-race scrutineering. As a result, race stewards disqualified both cars.”
Toyota were even more frustrated given that the parts were not new to the car and had been in use since the start of the 2017 season, having been used most-recently at the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
Having been stripped of the race win, Alonso will now return to his duties with McLaren as the Formula One season resumes following the summer break. The Spaniard will leave the sport at the end of the season, but hinted that he could yet decide to return from 2020 or beyond if McLaren get back to the front of the grid and start winning races once again.
It's a thought process shared by his former teammate Jenson Button, who believes that Alonso is sincere in his words that a return to F1 could become a reality.
"It's always down to the individual when they choose to leave Formula One," said Button, whose SMP Racing outfit was forced to retire at Silverstone within the first hour of Sunday’s race after battling for third position in what was actually the battle for the lead once the Toyotas were disqualified.
"He has done the same thing as what I chose to do – leave but leave it open, for one year after, to go back. I think that's the right option to do.
"And if the McLaren's quick and it's winning races, he'll be back to Formula One, definitely.
"Every driver in the world would love to be in a winning car in Formula One. You retire, I think, because you get bored of the travel and the stress of it, and if your results aren't there, there's no reason to be there.
"If the car is quick, I'm sure he'd want to jump back in in 2020."
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