Simon Lazenby caught up with Fernando Alonso ahead of his return to Formula 1 with Renault next season “Honestly, I expect to be straight up to speed,” stated Alonso. “But I’m aware of the challenge that maybe I face in the first couple of races. Not only on pure speed, but also on procedures, steering wheel commands, things that are new for me and could take some time. I’m aware that I could struggle a little bit.“But I want to think that it will not happen.”‘Stopwatch will decide when I stop, not third title’Alonso has signed an initial two-year contract with Renault, meaning he is set to race until at least the age of 41. But, when asked if he will keep racing until he secures what feels like a long-overdue third title, he said his competitiveness will be the deciding factor, not championships.“I don’t think I will target a certain result before I stop,” he told Lazenby. “I think in motorsport, the stopwatch tells you when it is time to stop, not the age. I hope the stopwatch is on my side in the next coming years.” But he also knows he needs more track time, adding: “When you go out of the sport for two years and then you drive a Formula 1 car again, everything surprises you like the first time. I need those laps now.“The simulator is good until a certain point, but then you need the physical effort of the car, the G-forces, the training of the neck. I need as many laps as possible.”First few races could be a ‘struggle’… but will they be?That’s not to say Alonso expects to be rusty when he does get started officially next year – even though he acknowledges that it could be a ‘struggle’. – Advertisement – – Advertisement – – Advertisement – Talks between Renault and Alonso ramped up after Daniel Ricciardo’s surprise confirmation, back in May, that he would be leaving for McLaren, before a reunion between the French team and the driver who claimed their last two Drivers’ Championships in 2005 and 2006 was announced in July.With Renault fifth in last year’s constructors’ standings, they didn’t appear to have what Alonso has always stressed would be key for him making an F1 comeback – a winning package – but he insisted to Simon that, with new rules on the way in 2022, they are the perfect fit.“[They were the preferred choice] for two reasons,” he continued. “One, in terms of expectations and building something from the midfield to the top, it was very attractive, very appealing. And secondly because I know everyone in this team. I know the passion for racing. It’s the third time I come here and I knew I would feel at home here.”Renault are leading the midfield this season, currently third with four races to go, so the signs for Alonso – a man who has famously not had luck on his side with career decisions in the past – are promising. They will be known as Alpine next season and, presumably, a convenient return to a blue livery.Renault car ‘amazing’ but he ‘needs laps’Alonso stepped up his preparations for 2021 with a filming day in Barcelona last month, completing 21 laps in the team’s current car.“It was amazing,” he said. “It was quite an experience.” 5:17
Before he had the opportunity to taste his first authentic Philadelphia cheese steak, or even capture a glimpse of the Liberty Bell, Nikola Vucevic fell in love with the Philadelphia 76ers.Talent · Former USC forward Nikola Vucevic became the fifth Trojan to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft in the last five years. – Seth Rubinroit | Summer Trojan “The Sixers were definitely my favorite team coming into the draft,” Vucevic said. “I wanted to get picked by them. I really liked coach [Doug] Collins, the rest of the staff, and the players I met.”The Sixers reciprocated Vucevic’s admiration, drafting him with the 16th pick of the first round at the 2011 NBA draft on Thursday.When the Sixers called his name, Vucevic wiped away a few tears and walked up to the stage at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. to shake hands with NBA commissioner David Stern and receive his Sixers hat.“It was by far the greatest moment of my life,” Vucevic said. “It was something that I dreamed about since I was little.”The Sixers became enamored with Vucevic at the annual NBA draft combine in Chicago. He surprised scouts by measuring just under 7 feet tall in shoes, making him the tallest player at the combine. Vucevic weighed in at a muscular 260 pounds.“The combine in Chicago gave me a great idea about where I was,” Vucevic said. “I saw that I was better than some of the guys ranked in front of me.”Vucevic also had a brief, one-day workout with the Sixers in Philadelphia prior to the NBA draft, where he was able to get a better understanding of the organization.“They have a great young team, and I fit in pretty well and want to help them,” Vucevic said.At a press conference, Collins called Vucevic “a hard working, skilled big man with a desire to succeed, who gives us more size in the front court.”Vucevic is expected to compete with Spencer Hawes for the Sixers’ starting center position.“I will be able to play the [center] position in the NBA,” Vucevic said. “I learned how to play tough and aggressive in college.”As a junior at USC, Vucevic averaged 17.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, as the Trojans earned an NCAA tournament berth.Vucevic came a long way from when he averaged 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds per game as a freshman. He was named the Pac-10 Most Improved Player as a sophomore and All-Pac-10 First-Team as a junior before declaring for the NBA draft.Sixers forward Andres Nocioni currently wears uniform No. 5, Vucevic’s jersey number at USC. At his introductory press conference, Vucevic held up a No. 8 Sixers jersey.Vucevic became the fifth Trojan selected in the first round of the NBA draft in the last five years, after Nick Young in 2007, O.J. Mayo in 2008, and DeMar DeRozan and Taj Gibson in 2009. Only four schools have produced more first-round picks during those years.The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Kyrie Irving out of Duke with the first overall selection. Two Pac-10 players, Derrick Williams from Arizona and Washington State’s Klay Thompson, were selected ahead of Vucevic.Former Trojan guard Marcus Simmons and forward Alex Stepheson were not selected in the NBA draft but could still sign free agent contracts or play overseas.