Fernando Alonso explained the importance of leaving extra space when battling your teammate after an opening-lap sprint race fight between the Red Bulls almost caused disaster at two corners for Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
After Perez passed his teammate at the first corner he ran Verstappen half onto the sodden grass upon exit, but the Dutchman returned the favour at turn three as he almost ran wide and blocked the other Red Bull from cutting back, stopping the rest of the field to a near standstill.
Meanwhile, Alonso had a good battle chasing down Lance Stroll at the end of the sprint race and though he wasn’t able to pass his teammate, both drivers kept it clean throughout to make up constructors’ championship ground on Mercedes and Ferrari.
“Always when you’re fighting with your teammate, you take extra care,” Alonso told the media. “But I needed one more lap I think, I needed one more DRS opportunity. I was very close in turn seven but it’s not really a corner that you pass.
“So yeah it was close but it was a good fight, the engineer was telling me in the last three laps, press the energy button just to pass and things like that so it was fun.”
After Alonso led a fourth-row Aston Martin lockout in the sprint, Lance Stroll took advantage of the chaos caused by Verstappen‘s understeer to jump his teammate who also dropped behind Alex Albon.
But after fighting past the Williams, Alonso wasn’t able to find the perfect time to attack Stroll on a drying track and the pair settled for a fine nine-point haul from the afternoon.
It’s the opposite story in the grand prix as Stroll outqualified his teammate for the second time in 2023, and starts sixth just ahead of Alonso.
“Starting P7 tomorrow, let’s see what happens,” Alonso added. “But today was a very good Saturday it’s not our best circuit in terms of competitiveness, it seems. Too many straights.
“But three points more than Ferrari, eight points more than Mercedes is a good Saturday”
Alonso explains sprint race tyre decision
While Fernando Alonso backed himself to pass Stroll if the sprint had been one lap longer, the Aston Martins could’ve faced a slide down the grid if that was the case.
The sprint started in the rain but after George Russell was the first driver to change from intermediate tyres to slick rubber, a slew of drivers followed and were soon putting in much faster laptimes.
The Astons chose not to sacrifice grid position but could’ve lost out to dry runners Nico Hulkenberg, Esteban Ocon and Russell if the race had gone on any longer on a rapidly drying track.
And post-race, Alonso was asked to explain why he and Stroll hadn’t switched to slick tyres.
“We did consider it, it was the biggest question of the race,” Alonso said. “But it was seven laps to the end, I think so you need to make 20 or 22 seconds in six laps and it was very, very close.
“The fact that Nico stopped just one second in front of me and finished one second behind me proves that the total time in the race. It was very similar.”