Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Zandvoort, 2021

Alonso “lucky” after near-miss with barrier plus contact with three rivals on lap one

2021 Dutch Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso said he was “lucky” to avoid crashing out of the Dutch Grand Prix when he lost control of his car at turn three late in the race.

The Alpine driver also described a hectic first lap in which he had contact with three different drivers, including his team mate Esteban Ocon.

Alonso lined up ninth at the start but ended the first lap in seventh place, gaining positions from Ocon and Antonio Giovinazzi.

“The plan was to go on the outside [at turn one] because I was on the clean side of the grid,” he explained. “I wanted to have a straight start, not much [sideways] movement and try to go on the outside of turn one.

“But Giovinazzi thought the same plan, I guess, so he was on the outside and blocking a little bit my idea. So after that, I had to improvise a little bit into turn two and turn three. There were a lot of cars, I was even in the grass at one point.”

Alonso picked up places around the outside of the steeply banked turn three, but had to back off when he caught Carlos Sainz Jnr’s Ferrari.

“In turn three I chose to run on the outside and I kept a good momentum on it,” he said. “But Carlos was in the middle in a way, so I had to brake the exit of three. It didn’t help.

“But then Giovinazzi and Carlos were fighting until up until seven. And I could squeeze one position there.”

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During that time Alonso believes he had contact with three different drivers. “I think I’d been hit by Esteban in turn one, by [George] Russell in turn two, and by Giovinazzi in turn six. So I have a very robust tyre today and no puncture, so that was good.”

Alonso passed Carlos Sainz Jnr for sixth place on the final lap. However he had a scare when he almost crashed at turn three trying to complete the pass.

“It was a very stressful moment, for sure,” he said. “I had a go into Carlos like six laps to the end into turn one on the inside.

“I thought I was making the move and in the last moment, he released the brakes and he braked even later. So we nearly touched already into turn one.

“Then into turn three, I was too close. I locked the fronts a little bit and I run wider than normal outside the circuit. But obviously there are like two metres from the banking to the wall.

“I was like 10 centimetres or something from the wall with both front tyres locked up. So it’s not that I did anything magic there, it was just pure luck because I was not in control of the car. So I got lucky there.”

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2021 Dutch Grand Prix

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14 comments on “Alonso “lucky” after near-miss with barrier plus contact with three rivals on lap one”

  1. someone or something
    6th September 2021, 8:29

    It sounds like the old man had a lot of fun yesterday. It’s always a pleasure watching him explore the limit, and then some.

    1. someone or something
      Hell yeah, the older driver is the one exploiting limits in the most daring way, isn’t that counterintuitive? Not so much when you combine experience with a flaming willingness of making the most of it.

  2. If Ocon didn’t push Alonso on the grass, I believe Alonso would overtake Sainz on the first lap. This wouldn’t help Alonso’s race, but still… Alonso was very aggressive and it did pay out.

    And I still have a feeling that Alpine would earn more points if Alonso let Ocon go by in the first stint. Ocon was at least half a second faster.

    Alonso was smart, handled the tyres better than Ocon, pushed hard at the end. Good race, but Ocon seems faster (but not smarter).

    1. Faster, slower, difficult to say. At the moment Alonso was in front he was managing, and Ocon never got close enough to try a pass. On lap 5-6 or something Ocon’s engineer said to him Alonso was managing his pace. I don’t think there was much more points to salvage as Leclerc was certainly out of reach. Probably Alonso would have been blocked behind Ocon just like Ocon was. Maybe Alonso would have blocked the others more successfully, ending up in a better result on the second car ?

    2. I don’t think Ocon was truly faster, Alonso was just being conservative on the tyres because it was unknown how long they would hold on for. When the team suggested they might need to switch the cars Alonso immediately picked up the pace. At the start of both stints Ocon pushed hard and closed in, yet by the end of both Alonso had pulled 5-6 seconds ahead. I think it was just Alonso showing his experience and race management in knowing when to push and which fights he should pick.

      1. You’re exactly right. Once the team told Alonso that Ocon had more pace he replied he also had more pace and just saving tires. In the next few laps he proved it by pulling 6 seconds gap from ocon having DRS.

    3. Sviat

      Alonso was smart, handled the tyres better than Ocon, pushed hard at the end. Good race, but Ocon seems faster (but not smarter).

      If Ocon was really faster he wouldn’t have allowed Alonso open a 6 seconds gap before the end of the first stint. Of course he shouldn’t hang around his dirty air, but he could have held stationary in 2s gap and then getting closer to him during the pit window if he was to be the fastest Alpine today. In the beginning he looked fast, that’s right, but really because Alonso was planning his race to ocme alive in the end of the stints and it paid off nicely. What’s the point of letting Ocon past and then Alonso close in him some laps later with lower tyre deg? It’d be silly to throw away 1 or 2 seconds for each driver swapping positions everytime.

  3. How awesome that we missed it on the telly… they didn’t even show how he overtook Sainz, I had to check on twitter afterwards.

    1. @fer-no65 His eventual move on Sainz wasn’t the only pass unseen on the world feed, but some of Perez’s overtakes + moves among the last runners, etc.

    2. Yeah it was a pain having to watched Verstappen cruise to the finish when I could see on the timing that Alonso was within a second of Sainz for quite a while. Then eventually saw that he had passed Sainz which the Sky commentary team completely missed until they saw the final classification. I understand that they are obliged to watch the winner when he crosses the line but in this case they still could have done that while watching the Alonso/Sainz battle for several laps beforehand.

      1. Yes, I hate it, they do it every time. Why don’t they show the finish in a picture-in-picture in a corner if they have to, I want to see those last lap battles!

    3. Yeah. Another demonstration of the quality of F1’s broadcast.

  4. It’s nice when drivers geek out in an interview and go in detail about their experience

  5. I was never the biggest Alonso fan back in the day, but I really like his attitude since his time away from F1 and I hope he breaks Kimi’s longevity records. He is still the most exciting first lap driver after all these years!

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