Fernando Alonso after winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Photo: Ker Robertson (Getty Images)

During a pre-race press conference for the Formula One French Grand Prix on Thursday, humanity’s hero and one true savior Fernando Alonso said, verbatim, that his recent overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans was “a higher level than any other victory in Le Mans.” Yes, the Le Mans that’s been around since 1923.

He couldn’t have meant that? Right?

Alonso won his Le Mans debut, taking the victory in the top Le Mans Prototype 1 class and over the entire field. The No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid that he, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima competed in won the overall race by two laps over its No. 7 Toyota teammate, and by 12 laps over the third-place car of privateer LMP1 team Rebellion Racing. A lap at Le Mans is nearly 8.5 miles long. Yawn.

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This race was way down the list in terms of novelty or excitement. Alonso’s Toyota team in 2018 was the only manufacturer team left in LMP1 and was much faster than the privateer teams. Also, the World Endurance Championship has spent the year trying to balance performance to make it more competitive. Toyota beat the top privateer team by 12 laps, after all.

Yet, Alonso said in the F1 press conference that his victory was at a “higher level.” That isn’t taken out of context, as here’s the full question and answer as transcribed on the F1 website:

Q: (Joe van Burik – Autocar NL) Fernando, two questions to you: first, can you describe the feeling as you were making up time on the sister Toyota during your night stint at Le Mans? And secondly, do you feel the win would have much more value if other major manufacturers would still have competed in LMP1?

FA: At night, obviously you are so focused and concentrating on traffic and all the other stuff that you are not totally aware of the gap between the two cars so if you are faster or slower… you are just trying to put some laps together and some clean stints without any mistakes. When I finished my fourth stint and I asked what the gap was, obviously we had reduced it by one minute and a half or one minute 45s and that was great but during the stint, to be honest, I was not aware of the pace or anything.

And how it feels? It feels great. Last year there were only four cars, this year there were ten so I think there was much more opposition this year. We had the only hybrid system with, I think, 49 percent more efficient than any other car and it was a great challenge. I put this victory in a higher level than any other victory in Le Mans.

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Anyway, so Alonso thinks he’s badder than Louis Rosier, who drove almost every hour of the race in 1950 after a delay for car repairs, according to the Independent, and won, despite getting hit in the face by an owl. An owl!

Or Jean Rondeau, who won in a race car he made himself. Or Carroll Shelby, who won in 1959 while dealing with dysentery the entire race. Or Luigi Chinetti, who in 1949 apparently drove all but 20 minutes of the race, which was impressive for anyone, let alone a guy pushing 50.

There are a few things that could’ve caused this conclusion. Sometimes we don’t always say what we’re thinking in the way we’re thinking it. Sometimes people think really highly of themselves. Sometimes people just succumb to the hype and forget the history. Or, maybe Alonso is trying to send us a secret message.

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Regardless, we’ve tried to figure out what else this could mean, aside from what it looks like on the surface. Perhaps the quote was just missing a comma, and Alonso ranks this as his highest victory personally:

I put this victory in a higher level than any other victory, in Le Mans.

It also could have been a “read between the lines” type of situation:

I put a whooping on those privateer teams in this victory because I was in a higher level race car than any other competitor out there, giving me this victory in Le Mans.

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Or maybe Alonso meant it as a sorority-girl-style Instagram caption to hint at his racing future, but wasn’t sure how to articulate it. None of us would be sure how to do that, really:

I put this victor{IndyCar} in a higher level than an{IndyCar} other victor{IndyCar} in{dyCar} Le Mans.

The real message could have been hidden in the word jumble, as the following is, in fact, a fact:

I put this victory ... in Le Mans.

Maybe we need even fewer words than that:

... Le Mans.

Or we could have been meant to read it all backward, perhaps unveiling a secret meaning to all of this:

Le Mans in victory other any than level higher a in victory this put I.

Nah, that can’t be it.

We have asked Alonso’s McLaren F1 team for clarification on the quote, since we obviously can’t figure it out. We’ll update the story if we hear back.