RACE DEBRIEF

    Fernando Alonso said he was “speechless” that he couldn’t challenge the Mercedes in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, given he believed Alpine’s pace to be superior to the Silver Arrows’. And the two-time champion said a run of misfortune cost him a possible podium at Albert Park.

    Alonso suffered a reliability issue in Q3 on Saturday and crashed out of the top 10 shootout (below), saying afterwards that he had had a shot at pole such was his pace. On Sunday, he began on hard tyres and made it up as high as P4 – before the Lap 23 Safety Car gave the majority medium-tyred runners a chance to pit without losing ground.

    Taking the chance to pit on Lap 39 during the Virtual Safety Car, he switched from hards to mediums but they wouldn’t last – and Alonso had to stop again on Lap 53, which relegated him to P17 and last.

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    “Yes, the Safety Car in the wrong moment of the race, that was our killer,” began Alonso. “A little bit speechless, because I think today, we could have been on the podium to be honest. If we could have qualified third or fourth yesterday with Max out…

    “George [Russell] being on the podium – I think we were a little bit faster than the Mercedes this weekend – so we lost an opportunity here and also in Jeddah when we were doing a very good race. It seems the way it is at the moment, [we are] a little bit unlucky. Twenty races to go and in some of them I will be super lucky, I guess.”

    2022 Australian GP Qualifying: Alonso blames hydraulics after crashing into the wall

    Team mate Esteban Ocon was Alpine’s only points-scorer, taking P7 on Sunday, and Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi said the team would continue to bring improvements for the races ahead – Imola next on the calendar on April 24.

    “Overall, we’ve shown we are competitive, and we will keep building on the good base that we have, especially by bringing some upgrades to upcoming races to enable us to keep fighting higher up the grid.

    “For that, we will work on consistency in order to get both cars into the points. We move onto the next one when we race in Europe again in Imola. Our team is very much in the mix, and it is up to us now to remain highly motivated in this championship contest.”

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    Fernando Alonso was 'extremely unlucky' with Australian GP Safety Car

    Looking forward to Imola, Alonso said it would be a “real test” for the team given others would also upgrade their machines for the late April race.

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    “Let’s see, I think it’s going to be a real test for us because it’s quite slow compared to the last two events – we will see, if we can keep this performance, but I think... in Imola we will see some upgrades for everyone I guess, so we will see how fast we can be,” concluded Alonso.

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