Canadian GP 2022
The Saturday star also starred on Sunday. But not in the way that Fernando Alonso thought. Slipped second on the grid to 9th place. Everything was conspired against the Spaniard. In the end there was a penalty.
The sun shone for only 22 laps for Fernando Alonso. That’s how the oldest driver on the field can dream of the podium, if it was ever a dream. Alonso didn’t expect more than fifth place before the start. Which he corrected during the race and moved to third or fourth place. But a lot went wrong on lap 70 with second on the grid.
It all started when his team missed two stages of the VSC without a pit stop on laps 9 and 19. In both cases, this would have reduced the time taken to change tires by nine seconds. Alpine did not accept the first gift “because we assumed it would be a one-stop race and did not want to stop twice,” said team boss Otmar Szafner. If you want to cover the distance with a tire change, you have to run for at least lap 25.
The second VSC was unlucky. “When the VSC signal was shown, I was straight home. And when I tried to stop a lap later, it went off again.” So the veteran had to stroke his tires by lap 28 to live up to the original plan.
Esteban Ocon showed what unfortunate timing cost Alonso. The Frenchman was clearly behind his teammate in the opening round, allowed to pit under VSC pace on lap 19 and finished sixth behind Alonso.
Engine problem cost three tenths per lap
The moment Alonso lost third place to Lewis Hamilton, he realized he could write off a podium for good. Its engine lost power. A leak in the pneumatic system made the remaining 50 laps a nail-biter. Despite a problem around three tenths of a lap, Alonso was able to catch the pair of Ocon and Leclerc in front of him even after changing his tyres. He simply lacked the speed to overtake.
In the final stages, with two Alfa Romeos emerging from behind Ocon and Alonso, the Spaniard needed the help of his teammate. Ocon took his foot off the gas to donate to the second Alpine Drs. Only this saved Alonso from his pursuers.
“If Esteban had been faster, he would have been away from the others for ten seconds,” Szafner calculated. So the team ultimately did not respond to Alonso’s request for a change of position, as he was the fastest driver throughout the weekend. “It would still have been a fifth and a sixth for us. Only with the risk that both alphas would overtake us.”
Five-second penalty for Alonso
The big end came after crossing the finish line. Alonso was called to the stewards after a complaint by Alfa Romeo. On the final lap, he wrongfully defended against Valtteri Bottas on a long straight between the hairpin and the Finnish chicken. With the initial number 14, Alpine changed lanes a total of four times.
Alonso deftly defended himself before the referee, arguing that he had changed lanes once as permitted, which apparently forced Bottas to take his foot off the gas. All other wavy lines have no meaning for the result of the race. Bottas was no longer with him.
Having studied the video recordings, the sports commissioners could not get used to the depiction of the alpine pilot. He gave a five-second penalty to the qualifying star. Like he got Lance Stroll at the Australian GP when he did the same to Bottas. “The fine is not fair,” Szafner endorsed his driver.
As a result, Alonso lost two places to Valtteri Bottas and Guanyue Zhou. For the second time since Miami, the latter’s penalty cost the former world champion points. Alpine only got ten points instead of 14. Less than the French camp had expected given the excellent grid position. Alonso was outraged: “We deserve more than ninth place today.”
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