RACE DEBRIEF

    Fernando Alonso came within six laps of taking points at his first home race since 2018 in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix, but the two-time champion would ultimately drop from P9 to P17 in the final stages of the race – with the Alpine driver left blaming a “very optimistic” strategy from his team for the late-race plummet.

    Starting 10th, Alonso was right in the thick of the action throughout the race, notably dicing twice with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll – with the pair’s second encounter even requiring a stewards’ enquiry after Alonso was investigated for forcing the Canadian off track, although no further action was taken.

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    But with Alonso in ninth and holding up a train of cars as the race reached its latter stages, the Spanish driver ultimately fell down to 17th, after he was passed in quick succession by a number of drivers – with a one-stop strategy ultimately to blame, according to Alonso.

    “I couldn’t drive!” laughed Alonso. “I think we were in a very optimistic strategy with one-stop and I knew that [the drivers behind] were coming, I tried to hold five or six cars behind me for a couple of laps but it was not enough.

    2021 Spanish Grand Prix: Stroll and Alonso almost crash at Turn 1

    “But I would rather prefer to risk that strategy and try to take that point than sit there behind and not scoring,” added Alonso. “We were brave today, maybe too brave. I think there is some work to do in the race pace and the tyre management but happy in general with the weekend.”

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    It was a day of going backwards for the Alpine drivers, with Alonso’s team mate Esteban Ocon also falling from fifth on the grid to P9 at the flag. But Alonso said he’d still been encouraged by the team’s pace at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

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    Alonso dicing with Stroll in Barcelona

    “We didn’t know if [the Portuguese Grand Prix performance, where Ocon and Alonso finished P7 and P8] was track-specific, or a real improvement on the car and here we confirmed that we are going in the right direction,” said Alonso. “There’s still some work to go in terms of different driving style, different way of trying to set up for me in the car… I have some homework for sure.

    “I think we felt more competitive here and it’s good,” added Alonso. “We want more, we will not stop here and hopefully more to come at Monaco.”