Fernando Alonso hid his performance in practice ahead of last weekend’s Legends Trophy races at Silverstone, where he ended the season with a double victory.
The two-time Formula 1 world champion was a late addition to the Legends field in The Race All-Star series powered by ROKiT Phones, joining for round three of the championship at Zandvoort.
He qualified an impressive fourth for his debut, but crashed out of both races, before taking a double triumph in DW12 Indycars on the Indianapolis oval a week later.
Alonso rounded out the season by making it four consecutive wins with his Silverstone brace, after cleverly disguising how much progress he’d made on conventional circuits with the Brabham BT44 since his Zandvoort debut.
In an entertaining conversation on the latest episode of The Race Esports Podcast, British Touring Car Championship legend Jason Plato said the other drivers had noticed Alonso playing tricks during testing at Silverstone.
“One thing I noticed with Alonso, the cheeky monkey, was in all of the practice sessions he didn’t record a laptime,” Plato said.
“Not one. And we’d all sussed out what he was doing. In the last corner he was going completely off-track so the lap was disallowed.
“Therefore it didn’t hit the timing screens, but nevertheless, he knows what his laptime is.
“And he was doing this on purpose so nobody knew what his pace was!”
Plato said it was a sign of how competitive Alonso is, but also a testament to how quickly he’d got on the pace in the Legends Trophy.
“Fernando’s a strange cat, and he’s bloody good,” he added. “It probably had the effect he wanted, in that we were all going, ‘What were you doing that for?!’
“He’s obviously incredibly competitive and wants to win everything, and if I was as fast as him I’d probably be doing the same thing, but alas I’m not!”
In the almost hour-long chat, where Plato revealed that he’d put the qualifying results from one of the Indianapolis practice races that he took pole for on the wall of his downstairs toilet, he also raised a theory about one of the tricks Legends Trophy champion Jenson Button might be getting up to ahead of each event.
“Jenson’s really very quick,” Plato said. “After my first race weekend I started to have a little study and see what people are up to.
“It was only then I realised I could look at the standings, highlight his name, press a button and I could be in-car with him, so I can watch how he was driving.
“But one thing I did notice was as soon as the server opens [for the drivers to practice], Jenson logs on but doesn’t actually drive the car for some time.
“I wondered if he was putting himself in other people’s cars and seeing what other people were doing.”