Lighting up the grandstands with glee and drifting in perfect fashion through the final corner, Fernando Alonso crossed the line on Saturday to secure P2 in qualifying at the Canadian Grand Prix. The Alpine A522 car is no stranger to good qualifying results and last weekend was no different; but a spot on the front row ahead of Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari was definitely a huge achievement.
However, come race day, Alonso slid back to seventh on the road, even falling behind his teammate Esteban Ocon. To make matters worse, he was hit with a time penalty and essentially finished the race in ninth place.
Often hailed as the king of F1 race starts, it was definitely a surprise to see Alonso get away rather slowly at the start. Despite this, he still managed to keep Carlos Sainz at bay. Alonso kept his fellow Spaniard behind him in third, providing him with a possible shot at Verstappen. However, this would only last for a short while as Sainz managed to easily pass him within the first few laps.
Later on, Alonso also missed out on a cheap pitstop, having just missed the pit entry when a Virtual Safety Car came out. As a result, he had to pit under green flag conditions, which meant several of his rivals had the upper hand over him.
By Lap 20, his race went from bad to worse as he was struck with a power unit issue. With what seemed to be an air-leak, a predicted podium finish turned into a scramble to just finish and score some decent points.
The plain answer is yes. Fernando Alonso was keen to get past his teammate in the latter stages of the race, but was asked to hold his position by his race engineer, Karel Loos.
Alpine Team Principal, Otmar Szafnauer, later justified this decision by emphasizing that Alonso was nursing a powertrain issue that cost him a valuable amount of speed down the straight. He further stated that due to this, allowing racing between the two was pointless.
The drivers were occupying positions that brought home decent points for the Enstone-based outfit. Esteban Ocon ran in fifth place, followed by Fernando Alonso in sixth, and it simply did not make sense for the team to swap positions as they would end up with the same amount of points.
Although Otmar Szafnauer was quick to shoot the idea down, Fernando Alonso rued that this was a problem. Especially because it wasn’t the first race where he had to sit back due to an issue with the car.
He faced issues that led to DNFs in two races this season. He had an engine issue at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and suffered damage to his chassis at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, ruling him out for both races. While it might be a stretch to say that problems only affect his car, one can see where his argument comes from.
This is also backed up by the fact that his teammate has finished every single race this season and has scored 39 points, compared to Fernando Alonso’s meagre 18 points.
Alonso, on the one hand, has proved that age isn’t a limiting factor for him. He has proven time and time again through his rocketing race starts and blissful overtakes that he’s still got it. If Alpine can solve his reliability issues, he’s bound to be back in the midfield fight.
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