Fernando Alonso finally got to complete a full race distance in Brazil, after frustrating weekends in Austin and Mexico City - but a strategic gamble backfired in his penultimate Grand Prix in Formula 1…
Seventeenth on the grid after a difficult qualifying session for McLaren, Alonso made another strong start to gain two positions on the opening lap and hold 15th for much of the first part of the race. Running close behind a struggling Marcus Ericsson, Alonso made an early pit stop to try and make up more places, but after a delayed stop it was a plan that didn’t pan out as intended.
“The start was good, there were a few incidents just ahead of us, as usual, as they keep bumping into each other,” Alonso said. “There’s a lot of debris flying off but no one retires, the cars seem indestructible.
“You never know what it is going to happen, so we tried to take a gamble with the strategy, pitting really early to try and undercut the cars in front of us. But I think in the end, the way the medium tyres worked, our plan backfired, but that’s something we only found out at the end of the race.
“So, the undercut we were trying to do didn’t work. Neither the strategy nor the pit stop worked well, but, in any case, I don’t think we had the pace to get into the points, so we didn’t lose an opportunity to score points or anything like it.”
ALONSO: Points were out of reach today
Alonso’s slow pit stop cost him nearly 10 seconds and he needed a second stop on his way to being classified a lowly 17th, but he insists he still looks forward to the final race of his F1 career in Abu Dhabi with enjoyment, despite points being impossible to come by in Brazil.
“The positions will be where they will be. We know Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull will be in the top six, and then Haas and Force India will be in the remaining top 10. Then will be Renault, Toro Rosso, McLaren, Williams in that mid pack. So we try to enjoy. The results will be not very important - it is more the emotional part of Abu Dhabi, what I am looking forward to.”
While Alonso bemoaned his strategy, team mate Stoffel Vandoorne was more positive over his and McLaren’s performance at Interlagos as he rose from 20th on the grid to cross the line in 14th, though he was later relegated one position by a time penalty for ignoring blue flags. An identical penalty for Alonso did not affect his place in the results.
“Maybe no-one noticed again but it was a great race,” Vandoorne said. “We did a good job in the first stint to make our tyres last a little bit longer than the others, we came out on the fresh tyres, had a good fight with Fernando and from there on we did a good race.
“We managed to overtake the Williams as well. It might not look on the timing screens that it’s been a great race, but I feel like I maximised everything so I’m happy.”