‘We got lucky to get an opportunity – and we took it’ – Alonso delighted with late charge to P6 in Baku
Fernando Alonso’s pace deserted him early in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with the Spaniard dropping like a rock, out of the top 10 and drifting away from the points. But a late gamble to take the softs – and then an aggressive approach to the two-lap shoot-out after the red flag saw him snatch a brilliant sixth…
Alpine were dealt a blow when Esteban Ocon retired with a loss of power when the race was just four laps old and their hopes of scoring looked bleak as Alonso struggled for pace and dropped from P8 to P13 during the race.
But the red flag for Max Verstappen’s crash, following a tyre blow-out, neutralised the race and when they got going again, Alonso made up four places in two laps to secure his best F1 result in three-and-a-half years.
“We have good pace in a two-lap race,” he said with a smile. “That was fun. It was exciting to have some battles. Everyone was aggressive knowing it was only two laps and you don’t need to take care of the tyres.
“It was fun. I think we had a solid weekend here in Baku. Being 10th, it was too little reward for the team. I’m happy with sixth. The guys deserve it, we’ve been working very hard. At least we get some good points.”
Throughout the weekend, Alpine showed top-10 pace and Alonso was fancying his chances of making progress from P8 – however he was nowhere early doors and could do nothing as car after car passed him and forced him out of the points in the first stint.
“Yeah, a little bit [surprised by the pace on the soft],” he said. “The FP2 long run felt OK, but early in the race, we were three or four tenths slower than the people around.
“We tried to be creative with the strategy, trying to undercut people around, and then taking the first Safety Car, and gambling to put the soft tyre, but any strategy when you’re a bit slow in pace, it doesn’t work.
“We got lucky in the end to get an opportunity – and we took it.”
Alonso moves up to 11th in the drivers’ standings, overhauling team mate Ocon, who ended four successive races in the points.