Alonso thinks P6 or P7 was possible at F1 Japanese GP: “We didn’t optimise the strategy”

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Last weekend the Japanese Grand Prix was held at the legendary Suzuka circuit. Red Bull Racing managed to obtain its 6th constructors’ championship in its history, thanks to the dominant weekend that the Austrian team and their Dutch driver Max Verstappen had.

Another team that also had an extraordinary weekend was McLaren, who managed to secure a double podium after Lando Norris finished in second position with his teammate, Oscar Piastri, on the final step of the podium.

In the Constructors’ Championship, things are starting to tighten up with this excellent performance by McLaren. Mercedes and Ferrari are separated by only 20 points, while further back, McLaren is beginning to close in on Aston Martin in search of fourth place, which is currently held by the British-Canadian team.

Aston Martin seemed to have control of second place in this championship, however, the poor performance that Lance Stroll has had for much of the season has meant that the 174 points that the two-time world champion, Fernando Alonso, has achieved, are not enough to keep Ferrari and Mercedes behind. We are talking about that of the 221 points that Aston Martin has in total, 78% of these have been achieved by the Asturian driver, while the remaining 22% has been thanks to the Canadian driver.

In Suzuka, Alonso made his way to Q3, where he finished in P10, while his teammate, Lance Stroll, was knocked out in Q1. During the race, Lance Stroll had to retire his car after the team had spotted a rear wing failure. For his part, Alonso managed to advance 4 positions on the opening lap as he took full advantage of using the softs.

However, a few bad decisions on strategy compromised his P6 and he finished the race in P8, obtaining 4 points.

He pitted before the VSC and eventually found himself stuck behind the Alpines of Ocon and Gasly. Alonso believes this cost him a potential shot at getting George Russell.

“I think it was a great race. Mega start, up to P6 and then we had a good race.

“I think we didn’t optimise the strategy, maybe we stopped too soon at the beginning, and that compromised a bit the final result. But we were fast and the pace was a little bit better than expected.”

Photo Credit: Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team.

“I think today we had more than the results showed. P6 and definitely P7 was possible after the start. Obviously the McLaren were too far ahead and at the moment we need to see as everyone at the moment is working flat out to bring some new parts before the end of the season, so let’s see what we can bring.”

The two-time world champion knew that the early call to box had not been a correct decision by his team, which caused him to comment on the radio:“You’ve thrown me to the lions by pitting me this early, mate. Unbelievable.”

The fact that this radio team was broadcasted was not to the Asturian’s liking, to which he commented:

“I think it’s the same, the classic FOM [Formula One Management] radio completely out of context.

“I’m not sure exactly what the drivers can say when they are behind a car that is slower, and on the straight, they are pulling away even when you open the DRS.

“So I don’t know exactly what the other drivers do, maybe they say; ‘I’m okay, I’m happy to stay here and to stay behind’, but I prefer to be motivated to overtake them on track.”

Ultimately Alonso did manage to finish ahead of the Alpines because of an undercut on his second stop. He resisted a late charge from Pierre Gasly to claim P8, even if he felt more was on the table.

“I was slower with the DRS open, so I called for a different strategy. We stopped, we beat them, so that’s the way we do it. We beat everyone on track, even if the radio is the highlight.”