Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc, Red Bull Ring, 2018

Leclerc impressed by Alonso’s “very clever” tyre tactics

2018 Austrian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc says he took note of how Fernando Alonso used his tyres in a race where several drivers suffered due to blistering.

The McLaren driver passed the Sauber on his way to eighth place after conserving his tyres for much of the race.

“I think Fernando was a bit on the back foot when he changed to the soft tyres,” said Leclerc. “And that’s where you see his experience is paying off in this, he has just been very clever, he kept his tyres and at the end he was very quick with tyres in better shape than mine.

Leclerc still managed to finish ninth and scored points for the fifth time in the last six races. He said he was “extremely happy about [his] performance this weekend” despite going off on the first lap while trying to pass Pierre Gasly.

“P13 [in qualifying] and we had a five-place grid penalty, then we were P13 or P14 before going in the gravel and again last, [then] coming back into the points so it’s a great weekend for us,” he said.

“I knew I had to push very hard in the first laps because of starting from 18th I had to take some risks.

“I tried to overtake Pierre, I think. Somehow, I don’t know what really happened this lap but lots of cars went wide in this corner. I think Pierre and Marcus [Ericsson] nearly went in the gravel like me.

“But I just lost it because I tried to out-brake Pierre who also braked quite late so was just too much so I had to go wide.”

His team mate Ericsson, who finished 10th, let Leclerc by into ninth place. “Marcus was just on a different strategy,” explained Leclerc.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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29 comments on “Leclerc impressed by Alonso’s “very clever” tyre tactics”

  1. Nice way to go Leclerc, praise experience of Alonso, showing you know you can learn to do that too, and make it not a problem that he was overtaken at the last moment. But interesting point too.

    1. Still lobbying for a seat at Ferrari. He is a good driver, but he is just as good in the lobbybusiness. But he can’t hide he was beaten by his teammate and overtaken by a better driver in a much slower car (McL/Renault/Alonso).

      If he succeed pushing Raikkonen out of his seat, when Raikkonen is driving as good as he does at the moment, I take my hat off.

      1. I couldn’t agree with you more.
        By saying he learned from ALO means nothing – it’s one thing to know what ALO did and another to actually be able to do it!
        It was just LEC’s way of saying ALO had better tires when he passed him. I think he is overhyped at this time.
        If Ferrari signed him, they made a huge mistake. Kimi is having a good year.
        Knowing Ferrari, they will mess it up:)

        1. lol. two podiums and kimi is ‘driving as good as he does”.
          The guy doesn’t win a race in five years!
          He is not driving well, he is just driving. The car is good, so that’s enough for a few podium finishes.

          His drive in Canada was abysmal and he lacks consistency for a whole season.
          Leclerc surely would make much better use of that car. Kimi doesn’t care enough anymore.

          1. Just saying there is no reason, to hurry signing Leclerc. He has done a fantastic job, but has made points costly mistakes in the last 2 races and Ericsson was better or just as fast in some of the first 8/+20 weekends.

            Others including Magnussen is also doing a phenominal good job this year. If Kimi is replaced in 2019, Leclerc is not the obvious choice as his PR departement work so hard for.

          2. The fact you think Kimi only has 2 podiums prooves you are out of touch with reality.
            Fastest lap of the race to Kimi…FACT

          3. And what do they do with a fastest lap again?

        2. Jeremy Smith
          2nd July 2018, 16:22

          He could just be paying Fernando an old fashioned compliment…🤔

    2. Good that he noticed it & was aware of it all while still running his own race in a close group.
      Shows he has the capacity to be like Alonso & Schumacher in that regard.

  2. That’s why he’s the best driver in the world!

  3. There was Fangio, then Clark, Stewart, Prost. Now there’s Alonso.

    1. Stewart’s not up to par with the other names you’ve listed there.

      1. Too bad you disagree, I have a soft spot for Sir John Young Stewart, OBE; he was my childhood hero.
        Pray, who would you have mentioned instead? (pretty please, nobody by the name of Ayrton)

  4. More impressive is that Lecrec is learning more from Alonso every race and every scrap he has with him than Vandorne in 2 years.

    1. Vandoorne learned a lot, but you can know anything, if your car is made to suit someone else, engineering is blinded by the star next to you, and your feedback is ignored, you get a car that is slow, but suits one driver, instead of fast and suiting any driver. That’s why drivers like Raikkonen, Massa, Button, Ricciardo and Rossberg have more value than what is visible on track, and why teams without a benchmark 2nd driver suffer: They don’t drive around car issues, so they expose them to their teams, and make, if listened to, the car better for the star driver too!

  5. What did Alonso do to preserve them?

    Max, Kimi and Seb all did well on tires…

    Bottas didn’t ruin his set either(jk).

    1. Exactly. Would make more sense to compliment the guys that managed the tyres and achieved a podium

    2. It’s more than preserving the tires. This is nothing new…. he does it over and over even when tire wear has nothing to do with it. It’s greatness pure and simple.

  6. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    2nd July 2018, 9:16

    I still find this late swap of positions a little unfair. If you looked at the pace difference, it is almost certain Ericsson will have got past Leclerc by the end without team orders. That is why I don’t think Ericsson should have had to give it back. If they did use team orders (which they did), they should have done it 3 laps sooner. For 3 laps, Ericsson was around half a second behind Leclerc. If he’d instantly been let by, getting past Alonso will have been pretty easy in the time left. I think Sauber threw away a couple of points here. Maybe they wanted Leclerc to hold on to his position in the championship as Grosjean will have overtaken him if they didn’t swap positions.

    One thing though is that Ericsson did look decent in the race today and better than Leclerc. At leased Sauber can be pleased that they have certainly made some progress with the car. Even without the retirements, they will have been close to the points. The car is way better than last year.

    1. I agree 100%, why change back when Ericsson was much much quicker?
      If Sauber was interested to have more points then as you say why not let him pass earlier. He come up in the back of Alonso in no time when he was allowed to pass LecLerc. I have the feeling its a lot politics in Sauber right now with all this talk about Ferrari.

    2. @thegianthogweed
      The answer is within your own comment. Ericsson spent 6 laps within DRS range of Leclerc but was unable to pass him. Meanwhile, Leclerc was lapping (slightly) faster than Alonso after clearing Gasly, who had delayed the Sauber duo after Alonso’s pass. In other words: Leclerc was still racing Alonso, and Ericsson didn’t look too threatening despite a clear pace advantage. Swapping places 3 laps before the end of the race clearly disrupted Leclerc’s race, and Ericsson had to rely on Leclerc’s cooperation. Giving the place back after beginning the final lap outside of Alonso’s DRS window was the right thing to do, as this should ensure the drivers’ future cooperation, should their paths cross again on different strategies.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        2nd July 2018, 13:47

        I can agree on that part Nase, but getting past the same car is always harder. I’m still not comvinced that Ericsson wouldn’t have managed to get by Alonso if they hadn’t swapped sooner. He will have had a speed advantage as well as grip compaed to Alonso’s mclaren. So I feel getting past him will have been easier than Leclerc. And it does actually seem that the vast majority on other forums think Ericsson should have been able to keep the place.

        1. Nase
          After Alonso passed Leclerc the gap between them was in no time close to 3 seconds. Ericsson toke in this time within 1.5 lap, then was Leclerc 3 seconds after Ericsson. So I don’t see in what way this disrupted Leclerc’s race. I mean if he loost 1.5 seconds per lap to Ericsson and Alonso.

          1. @ Patrik

            After Alonso passed Leclerc the gap between them was in no time close to 3 seconds. Ericsson toke in this time within 1.5 lap, then was Leclerc 3 seconds after Ericsson. So I don’t see in what way this disrupted Leclerc’s race. I mean if he loost 1.5 seconds per lap to Ericsson and Alonso.

            I’m not entirely sure I understand everything, but I think you haven’t really looked at the available lap charts.
            The gap between Alonso and Leclerc was 0.612 seconds on lap 63. That gap suddenly went up to 1.953 seconds on the following lap. What had happened? Alonso had overtaken Gasly, who only managed a 1:11.0 in that lap, while Alonso immediately put in a lap time of 1:08.9. The Sauber were able to close the gap to Gasly immediately, but they were stuck for another lap, unable to react to Alonso’s pace.
            They both got by on lap 65, but the gap to Alonso still increased ever so slightly (+0.036), as they remained stuck behind Gasly for the first half of the lap, still unable to use the full potential of the car.
            That changed on lap 66, when Leclerc reduced Alonso’s advantage by almost 3 tenths to just 1.7 seconds.
            Apparently, this wasn’t enough for the Sauber pit wall, so they ordered their drivers’ positions to be swapped on the following lap (67). Leclerc slowed down by 1.1 seconds (1:09.151 -> 1:10.251) as he more or less waved Ericsson by. His gap to Alonso grew to 2.7 seconds (still under 3 seconds) that lap.

            So, here’s that disruption I’m talking about. From gaining on Alonso to being taken out of contention by letting the team mate overtake – if that isn’t a disruption, I don’t know what is.

            His gap to Alonso did start to grow again after that, reaching 4.2 seconds on the final lap, but considering that Ericsson was now ahead of him (identical car and 30 laps fresher tyres), there was no point in chasing his team mate, so I doubt he was pushing at all on the final 3 laps.

        2. @thegianthogweed

          but getting past the same car is always harder.

          That’s precisely my point. Ericsson got ahead because Leclerc cooperated. He didn’t manage to gain another place after that, so he gave the place back. It’s as easy as that.
          Yes, it seemingly took Sauber a few laps too long to issue team orders, and yes, that might’ve hurt Ericsson’s chances of overtaking Alonso. But no, that doesn’t change anything about the fact that he was only running in 9th place because Leclerc followed team orders.

          And it does actually seem that the vast majority on other forums think Ericsson should have been able to keep the place.

          What is it with you and authoritative arguments? All they do is weaken your argument.

          1. Nase
            If it weaken my argument is not really important to me!!!!!!!!!!. If I am wrong I am but please prove it without all the expertise kind of look you try to promote and do not have or shows. I hope It’s not the most important i this forum that I must be Mr. super guy/girl here and always be 100% correct!! If you, nase can not have a dialogue without telling me or who ever oposes you, that it weakened anyones argument. THEN Being number 1 is for you more important than an open dialogue where everyone are in title to ventilate his/her thoughts. So I suggest you answer yourself in the future cause I will not.

          2. @ Patrik
            Pardon me? Unless you’re taking part in a remake of Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde, that reply you’re replying to has absolutely nothing to do with your comment. It’s @thegianthogweed ‘s comment I’m replying to.

            My reply to you was a different one.
            I believe it should meet this requirement:

            If I am wrong I am but please prove it without all the expertise kind of look you try to promote and do not have or shows

            (Although it has to be said that I’m really struggling to understand what that means)

  7. Supreme tyre management is Fernando Alonso’s territory, I think Kimi Raikkonen is the only driver on the grid that is as good as Alonso in that department. Both have the ability to deal with graining and blistering. Racing is not and has never been always flat out all the time, managing many aspects of the car including engine,gearbox,fuel,brakes,tyres…. has always been a driver skill. While the electronics and telemetry have killed a huge part of it, yre management remained a driver skill. I think that is also down to the Pirelli’s since they behave differently depending on many factors (track condition, temperature, fuel load….) which requires the drivers to adapt quickly and to understand the tyres on race day.
    On another note, Leclerc has been learning from Alonso quite a lot in this year which is impressive and good for hims given the amount of talent this kid has. I still think that Alonso is one of the best ever drivers in race conditions.

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