Alonso says he pulled off ‘70 laps of qualifying’ to beat Hamilton in ‘amazing’ battle for second
Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso has admitted that he was in qualifying mode for the entirety of the Canadian Grand Prix in a bid to keep Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton at bay for second position.
Hamilton charged ahead of Alonso when the race got under way to hold P2 behind the lead Red Bull of Max Verstappen across the opening stint, but that was only the start of a battle that ran to the chequered flag.
Having both swapped medium tyres for hards under the early Safety Car, Alonso closed back in on Hamilton when the action resumed and breezed past down the lengthy straight before the final chicane.
With Hamilton switching back to mediums and Alonso taking on more hards at their second stops, it was Hamilton who showed superior pace in the closing laps, but Alonso held on to beat his former team mate to second.
Asked if the race went as he expected it to, Alonso said: “Probably, yes. I think we were hoping to challenge a little bit more the Red Bull, but we lost a place at the start with Lewis.
“Then it was a battle with the Mercedes, and Lewis was pushing all the race. I didn’t have one lap where I could relax a little bit, so it was an amazing battle.”
He added: “At the beginning I had a little bit more pace, and at the end I think Lewis had a little bit more pace. It was tough, a very demanding race, all 70 laps of qualifying today.”
Alonso was also asked about being told to “lift and coast” in the final stint amid apparent brake concerns, saying: “I don’t know really; they didn’t tell me. Maybe it wasn’t to make me worry too much.
“I felt the car OK, but I was just following the instructions. Hopefully that means we have a little bit more pace, so [at the] next one [we can] put a little bit more pressure on Max.”
While Alonso made it six podium finishes in eight races with Aston Martin, team mate Lance Stroll gave the outfit a double points finish by recovering from his post-qualifying grid penalty to climb from 16th to ninth.