Although he had a terrible day in the Sao Paulo Sprint on Saturday, Fernando Alonso made up for it in the Grand Prix on Sunday, charging from 17th on the grid to fifth place.
Alonso and Esteban Ocon almost got into a fistfight on the opening lap at Turn 4, and then Alonso made contact with the sister A522 on the start-finish straight, earning him a five-second race time penalty, leading Alpine Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer to call the Sprint “a sad moment in our season.” Ocon would be 16th and Alonso would be 17th at the start of Sunday’s Grand Prix.
After being allowed to pass his teammate, Ocon finished eighth and Alonso sixth in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
According to Alonso, “Yeah, it was a terrific race,” which he said on Sunday. We were clearly the faster vehicle, so we opened the windows and rode the turbulence. Our plan calls for a total of three stops. We had lost contact with the majority of the field, but the last Safety Car had a surprising effect on the outcome of the race. I had better tires than Checo and Charles, so we had a good time racing each other and duking it out.
Both McLarens are down for the count, making this the ideal Sunday for the squad. Lots of learnings, and we’ll use them to prepare for a more tranquil weekend in Abu Dhabi.
After a heated intra-team duel, Alonso was given a five-second penalty for making contact with team mate Esteban Ocon during the Sprint.
We both made errors,” he said. Turn 4 saw him over-defensive, and the straightaway saw me underestimate the distance. As much as I tried to avoid it, I accidentally made contact with another driver doing 300 kilometers per hour.
He then went on to say, “I believe the punishment is very punitive,” arguing that Ocon had suffered no serious injuries as a result of the impact. In Portimao, [Kimi] Raikkonen and [Antonio] Giovinazzi were involved in a similar collision with no repercussions. Consequently, I find it hard to justify my punishment. But we accept responsibility for our error; we won’t do that mistake again, we promise!
The two-time world champion is leaving Alpine to drive for Aston Martin after this weekend’s race in Abu Dhabi, his last event with the team. And Alpine team leader Szafnauer was understandably pleased by Sunday’s recovery in Brazil.
Yesterday may have been a low point in our season, but today ranks right up there. The team leader congratulated the whole team, including the Viry and Enstone factories, the pit crew, the pit lane spectators, and the drivers. “We had a terrific Sunday and gained 14 points and, more significantly, expanded our advantage in fourth position in the constructors championship,” he said.
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Until the last flag drops in Abu Dhabi, the championship is not done. Next weekend we will return to business as usual and do all in our power to ensure that both cars finish the season on a high note. Just a few more steps and we’ll be inside…”
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