Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Albert Park, 2018

Alonso took fifth off Verstappen by a tenth of a second

2018 Australian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso beat Max Verstappen to fifth place in the Australian Grand Prix because he came out of the pits just one-tenth of a second in front of the Red Bull.

Pitting under the Virtual Safety Car period allowed Alonso to ‘jump’ Verstappen, who lost more time because he pitted while the track was green. However when Alonso rejoined the track during the Safety Car period Verstappen initially moved back ahead of the McLaren as it was unclear which driver had the right to be ahead.

Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Albert Park, 2018
2018 Australian Grand Prix in pictures
During Safety Car periods drivers who are rejoining the track may overtake or be overtaken by other cars before they reach the second Safety Car line. Alonso reached the line one tenth of a second before Verstappen. But this was not clear at first and Verstappen had to be told to let Alonso past.

FIA race director Charlie Whiting explained that Red Bull asked him whether they needed to tell Verstappen to give the position to Alonso.

“Red Bull said ‘we think Fernando was in front’,” said Whiting. “I wanted to checked because it [wasn’t] completely clear. I asked the timekeepers to confirm at the Safety Car line which car was first, and they said Alonso by a tenth of a second.”

“Hence, that’s why it was difficult to see with the naked eye unless you’ve got the facility to replay it slowly, that sort of thing.”

Further confusion followed as Red Bull received the instruction before McLaren had been notified. This was why at one stage Alonso did not respond when Verstappen slowed and gestured for the McLaren driver to overtake.

“I said to Red Bull Max has got to let Fernando past. Before I could then get onto McLaren and say ‘we’ve told Max to let Fernando past’, Max was sort of saying ‘come on, then’. We hadn’t got around to getting the message to Fernando.”

Whiting added the drivers would have been given the same instruction even if the race had returned to green flag running.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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12 comments on “Alonso took fifth off Verstappen by a tenth of a second”

  1. Great race by Alonso, the day he has a car capable of getting podiums, we are going to have a lot of fun.

  2. And that’s despite McLaren still not managing a sub three second pit stop. If Alonso had NOT taken 5th place, that would have been entirely the team’s fault. If you want to be a top team, you have to learn to do decent pit stops.

    1. Krommenaas
      Chill Guy. McLaren have been off the pace for so long that pit stops have been the least of their problems.

  3. McLaren got kinda lucky with the Haas failures, but still, this is a great result. Let’s not forget their car is supposedly very different from what they had during testing, where they didn’t manage to put in a good a mileage anyway. McLaren have every chance to keep getting better and better from this point on. Maybe things are finally back to normal car wise.

  4. After qualifying, Alonso said he would score big points in the race. I suppose he paid close attention to Haas’ pit stop practice in Barcelona :)

  5. Mclaren finished with both cars on the points and scored almost half of what they did last year in one race whereas Toro Rosso broke down.

    It’s already paying off.

  6. Really positive result for McLaren. Maybe a tad lucky to be this high up but the car is clearly something they can work with and the switch to Renault is showing to be a wise move. They should be able to out-develop the other midfield teams and have a really solid first season with Renault power.

  7. A bit lucky but he’s there to grab every opportunity, superb drive all race. Both McLaren in the points well done!

    1. There is a lot of things that come down to luck in F1. The key is having a car that can take advantage of those opportunities. With Honda they were never in with a chance of taking that sort of opportunity.

  8. Alonso just got lucky like Vettel (and even RIC) that he could pit under the VSC. After the Haas boys Max was the most unlucky as he was the 1st to pass GRO so he suffered the most lost laptime even before the VSC. RIC had only 22 seconds on Max just before it all happened and stil one lap to go with Max going 1,5 sec quicker on his fresh rubber in clean air.

    it’s all part of the game, but Alonso’s result is not reflecting the strength of the McLaren. Haas and Renault are quicker

    1. “but Alonso’s result is not reflecting the strength of the McLaren. Haas and Renault are quicker”

      For now but McLaren’s strength is supposedly in their pre-scheduled performance upgrade phases .
      How will that compare to customer parts for Haas or Renault’s lower budget?

      Interesting that Kmag’s put-down on McLaren for the ‘replica Ferrari’ jibe, was to point out they looked better than such a massive experienced organization but then DNFd with small team errors.

      We’ve been getting mixed messages from Alonso in a short space of time, but I’m sure he’s just keeping spirits up.
      Then the many comments here have been pure speculation and riddicule until this race. ‘Alonso is done’ ‘ Torro Rosso will overtake them’
      Alonso saying this would be their worse race of the season. Then 5th ‘was about right’. I think they’ll overtake the above at mid-season and fight for the odd podium when two of the top 6 cars from the top 3 teams have problems. The best he can hope for is beating Red Bull in 2019 and mix it with Ferrari. In the mean-time he can enjoy going reasonabily quick, finishing races and keeping quicker cars behind on the tight circuits. Himself and Schumacher are still the best defenders of position I’ve seen.

  9. Hopefully McLaren may be more competitive at circuits such as Monaco and Hungary, where aero/downforce helps their car, and who knows even challenge for podiums at those races
    They are still lacking in top speed compared to other cars.

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