Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2016

Seventh at Spa an “unthinkable result” – Alonso

2016 Belgian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso admits the prospect of finishing seventh at a circuit like Spa was an ‘unthinkable’ result only a few months ago.

Having traditionally struggled on power-dependent circuits with the Honda engine, Alonso says that McLaren exceeded their expectations for this weekend.

“It was an exciting race to drive and I had a good feeling throughout,” says Alonso.

“We had good pace this weekend, we did better than expected on this track. Believe me, a few months ago that would have been unthinkable on a circuit like this. That’s progress – real progress.”

After starting from the back of the grid after multiple power unit-related grid penalties, Alonso took advantage of lap one chaos and the early red flag stoppage to bring himself into contention.

“After all the bad luck we’ve had so far this weekend, we finally got some good luck today,” says Alonso. “We started last, but we managed to keep away from all the incidents, gain some positions thanks to the Safety Car and then a couple more because of the red flag.

“We then put on fresh tyres and found ourselves in fourth place – and, better still, we had the pace to manage the situation afterwards. Okay, we couldn’t hold back Lewis (Hamilton), Checo (Perez) or Seb (Vettel), because they were just too fast, but we had enough pace to keep Valtteri (Bottas) behind all the way to the flag.”

The six points gained by McLaren moves them ahead of Toro Rosso into sixth place in the constructors’ championship.

“It’s great news that we overtook Toro Rosso in the constructors’ championship,” Alonso says. “I think we can be regularly in the points from now on.”

2016 Belgian Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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  • 15 comments on “Seventh at Spa an “unthinkable result” – Alonso”

    1. For me alo you r the driver of the day

    2. I never thought a day would come where Alonso driving a McLaren to a 7th place finish would be deemed “unthinkable”. 2007 is a distant memory…

      1. Well, after 2007 I think seeing Alonso achieve anything in a McLaren was quite unthinkable actually @hellotraverse :-)

        But yeah, at that time the team nor Alonso looked like they would be happy finishing 7th anywhere

    3. That was a supreme drive!

    4. driver of the day.

    5. Conclusion: be happy with what you got… ’cause it could be worse.
      Well, he wasn’t happy anymore at Ferrari fighting around the podium area, winning from time to time too… and now he’s very happy for finishing… 7th… mostly thanks to SC and collisions in front! LOL

      1. Alonso gains more respect every race. If you’re not winning championships, I’ll take respect over second place. His class shows again. Mature driver. He has come a long way from his early days.

    6. Hard to see how he could have finished any higher today, even if he had not started at the back.

    7. You give Alonso half a chance and he is going to always be there. It is such a shame by the time mclaren improves I fear it might be too late for Fernando.

      1. Duncan Snowden
        29th August 2016, 18:48

        Maybe. I was looking into Mercedes’ performance on its return back in the ’90s recently for a comment I never posted, and Honda’s so far, if you account for different circumstances (Mercedes had unlimited testing and no penalties for engine changes, for example, and – arguably – weren’t up against an utterly dominant existing entrant) is actually surprisingly comparable. By their second Spa, late August 1995, Mercedes’ best finish was 4th; Honda’s is 5th.

        Now, Mercedes found themselves on the podium at their second Monza (also the next race back then) which seems highly unlikely for Honda, but you have to bear in mind that not only were there fourteen retirements, but four of the top teams lost both of their cars. Sauber, seventh in the championship that year, won their first ever podium at the same race. If that sort of thing had happened yesterday – both Red Bulls, both Ferraris, both Force Indias, and both Williamses out of the race – Fernando could, amazingly, also have ended up in second.

        To be fair, Mercedes did win a “genuine” 2nd at Suzuka later that season, a 3rd at the Nürburgring in April of the following year, and a 2nd at the famous Monaco with only four finishers which Panis won in the Ligier. But they didn’t really start appearing regularly on the podium until the back half of their third season (four 3rd places in seven races… accompanied by five retirements and a 13th), didn’t manage a win until the start of their fourth, and won Mika the championship in their fifth.

        I’m not making predictions, but however slow their progress appears, and, as I say, allowing for different circumstances, not much of that seems completely inconceivable at this stage for McLaren-Honda – podiums around this time next year, wins in 2018, and a championship run in 2019 – although it would leave Fernando at the age of 38 by the end of it. If it looks possible, I can certainly see him hanging around that long. If not, he’ll be off like a shot.

        1. Just a minor correction: If both Red Bulls, Ferraris, Force Indias, and Williams had been out Alonso would have actually won the race.

          1. Well, given that He finished in front of both Williams, you can take them out of the equation @alonshow.

            1. Duncan Snowden
              31st August 2016, 18:19

              True, but I was trying to emphasise the point that a lot of cars had to retire to give Mercedes their first podium as an engine supplier, just as they would at this stage for Honda.

          2. Duncan Snowden
            31st August 2016, 18:17

            Um. Rosberg or Hamilton? At Monza in ’95, one of the Benettons – Herbert’s – made it to the finish, and won. I was assuming that in a similar situation this year, Fernando would still have to contend with one of the Mercs. Even taking out all of the other competition, I don’t see him beating them yet. :)

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