Alonso says Dutch GP F1 podium is “like being alive again” after recent struggles

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Fernando Alonso returned to the podium with an excellent second place finish at the 2023 Dutch GP, his first since the Canadian GP back in June, and has credited Aston Martin’s upgraded car as one he could trust in the tricky damp conditions at Zandvoort, and even described it as like “being alive again” given the team’s recent struggles.

Photo Credit: Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team

The Spaniard started the race in 5th place and quickly got ahead of George Russell at the start, before undercutting Lando Norris’s late-stopping McLaren when the rain fell on the opening few laps. He looked set to finish in third place for most of the race, despite a delay in his third pit stop which meant he had to overtake Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari to reclaim his podium spot, which he did so swiftly.

However, some heavy downpours late on in the race meant the race was red flagged, and an off for Sergio Perez just before the interruption meant the 42-year-old found himself in second place for the final restart in wet conditions, and from there he secured his place and even looked like challenging Verstappen for an unlikely win.

Speaking after the race, Alonso explained that his AMR23 – which was heavily upgraded ahead of this weekend as the team aims to get back to its previous highs of the early races – provided him with a stable platform which he could “trust” during the wet periods and paved the way for his most recent visit to the podium:

“It was a very intense race,” said the Spaniard, who has now broken the record for the longest gap between a driver’s first and most recent podium in F1, previously held by Michael Schumacher. “Obviously, in the beginning of the race with the wet conditions we were very, very fast, and we stopped maybe one lap too late [for intermediates], but at the same time as the leaders.

“The car was flying today – very competitive, very easy to drive – and in these conditions you need a car that you can trust, and I did trust the car a lot today, so I did enjoy [the race],” he said. “I felt great today, the car was alive and I was feeling connected to the car today from the beginning.

“We overtook a few cars at the start, and then with the very difficult conditions in the first laps, we were very fast – even faster than Max.

“I did think about maybe trying a move [for the lead] in the last restart, but then I thought ‘maybe I cannot exit the circuit’,” he jokingly said.

He conceded that the race proved to be a difficult one with a “lot of emotions” to go through in a single day after a lengthy summer break, but was also relieved to put some of Aston Martin’s recent struggles behind them with a return to the podium:

“I was happy with the car, I was in sync with the car. If I wanted to push, the car was responding well, if I wanted to save a little bit the tyres or something, the car was also giving me the right answers, so it’s one of those races on Sunday that everything works fine.

“I felt also that there were a lot of things going on, after four weeks of nothing in the August break, we had everything in one race – we had the red flag, the safety car, the rain, the dry and overtaking.

“[It’s] a lot of emotions to go through, so I need to sleep today and rethink tomorrow what happened when I wake up.

“At the end to finish P2 after the difficulties that we went through in the month of July, it feels like being alive again.”

Alonso admitted that when the race was re-introduced to the F1 calendar in 2021, when he was driving for Alpine, he didn’t even think he would be able to experience the thrill of being on the famously electric podium given the performance of his car at that time:

“The energy that we have here in Zandvoort is very unique. Three years ago when this race came in, I thought maybe I would never experience the Zandvoort podium, because I was not in a position to think about that, and today will be very special to share the podium with Max [Verstappen] and Pierre [Gasly].”