Alonso backs McLaren's Germany weather gamble
Making the right calls at the right times was crucial to a good result when rain fell at Hockenheim on Sunday. McLaren's decision to gamble on intermediate tyres backfired, but Fernando Alonso was quick to back his team's strategy...
Alonso was running in 13th position when rain started falling at the Turn 6 hairpin during the German Grand Prix and was one of three cars - alongside Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly - to immediately pit for intermediate tyres in anticipation of further rain.
However, the track wasn't wet enough for that rubber and he was forced to make an additional stop to switch back to slicks. He subsequently retired with Sporting Director Gil de Ferran suggesting the Spaniard's McLaren had a gearbox issue.
Though the gamble didn't pay off, Alonso feels McLaren had to take a risk if the team were going to score points for the third successive race.
“I didn’t know the problem but they told me to stop the car so probably they saw something on the data,” Alonso said. “It was a tricky race. We bet on the rain. At the first drops of rain we stopped for the wet tyre expecting heavy rain [but] it didn't come.
"We were out there on a completely dry track on the wet tyres, so we killed the tyres and then we stopped again for the dry tyre. It was difficult conditions out there but we were not in the points, we had to try something.
“It was a gamble in the race and in the end we didn’t score points but happy anyway.”
The result marks the fourth time Alonso has not been running at the chequered flag in the past six races, but the Spaniard insists his personal drive is not affected by the run. “It was a difficult race, but motivation is still the same," he said.
While Alonso is having a tough run of results, team mate Stoffel Vandoorne is struggling even more having not scored a point since race four Azerbaijan. On Sunday he could point to a power unit issue as the reason for his lowly finishing position, but praised McLaren's strategic decisions.
“It was a very strange race,” Vandoorne said. “We had a terrible first part. The engine suddenly decided to give up, we put it in safety settings and [thought we] had to retire the car.
"We were bringing the car to the pit lane, then the team made a call to change a lot of settings and try and again and everything seemed to work again. It was a bit lower power than normal but we got ourselves back in the race.
“We had two great calls with the rain coming in, didn’t box, toughed it out on the slicks in the wet and 13th was probably the best we could have done. At least we got ourselves back in the race.”
McLaren are currently seventh in the constructors' championship, 11 points adrift of Haas and Force India who are tied on 59. Alonso remains eighth in the drivers' standings, just one point clear of Kevin Magnussen.