Fernando Alonso dismissed his radio frustrations at the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix as being taken out of context, after he became irritated by the race strategy.
Aston Martin started the driver on the soft tyres from 10th, which paid dividends at the start as he gained places on the Mercedes cars and even managed to get a run on Sergio Perez, who started fifth.
Whilst he ran ahead of Lewis Hamilton, he seemed relatively comfortable before he was called in to pit which is where his first radio frustration was broadcast as he was put into traffic.
Alonso slammed his team accusing them of “throwing him to the lions” due to the early stop, as he had gone from comfortably managing a gap to defending his position and he later expressed irritation with the straight-line speed of the Aston Martin.
Chasing his old teammate, Esteban Ocon, Alonso was close to the gearbox of the Alpine but the deficit on the straight was so great that he couldn’t attack.
Even with DRS open, he wasn’t gaining sufficiently which provided extra frustration and he called for the team to think of an alternative route past the Frenchman.
“I think is the same classic theme, the classic F1 radio completely out of context,” Alonso said to the media.
“When you are behind a car that is slower, and on the straight they are pulling away even when you open the DRS, I don’t know exactly which driver would say say ‘I’m okay. I’m happy to stay here and to stay behind’.
“I prefer to be motivated to overtake them on track. As I said, I was slower even with the DRS open, so I called for a different strategy. We stopped, we beat them. So that’s the way we do it.”
Alonso pleasantly surprised by race pace
Alonso had qualified six tenths down on Hamilton, who himself was another four tenths down on the front-row McLaren of Oscar Piastri so it was set up for another long afternoon for an Aston Martin team who have lost their way in development.
But a shrewd decision to start on the soft tyres saw both cars catapulted into contention for points as Alonso got up to fifth, although Lance Stroll did later retire from the race.
Despite what the Spaniard perceived as strategic blunders, he was happy with the speed that the AMR23 showed.
“I think the positive is that the pace of the car was surprisingly good,” Alonso continued. “I didn’t expect to be as fast as Ferrari and Mercedes to be honest.
“I think with a more optimised strategy maybe we could have finished sixth or seventh, and he didn’t look that way yesterday after qualifying. So the Sunday was very strong for us and we need to understand why.”