Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Sochi Autodrom, 2021

“We never get lucky” rues Alonso after losing podium finish

2021 Russian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso said his Alpine team deserved a podium finish in the Russian Grand Prix after running third in the closing stages of the race.

He passed Max Verstappen with 16 laps to go, then gained positions from Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz Jnr and Sergio Perez as rain began to fall.

That put Alonso in third place, but as the conditions worsened he also had to pit for slick tyres and fell to sixth at the chequered flag.

“I think we should be on the podium today in terms of of executing the race and driving,” said Alonso. He compared his race to Lando Norris’, as the McLaren driver also tried to stay out on slicks, and lost his chance to win the race.

“We were in front of Verstappen, we were pulling away from him, we were in front of Sainz. Norris did an amazing race. And just by luck, he’s not on the podium or his first ever win in Formula 1.

“When it rains it’s just a very lucky factor. And I’m sad because when we are not competitive and we are P11 or P12, it never rains so we never get lucky. And today we are P3, today it just rained. So not sad but definitely we are not very lucky.

“But every point we got this year is on merit, we deserved. We never had any presents. We never had any gifts, today or this year. So I am proud of every point that I took this year.”

Alonso believes Alpine are doing “fantastically well every weekend” to get the most out of a car which performs better at some tracks than others.

“Some weekends we look a little bit less competitive, like Monza, both cars in the points. Some weekends we look more competitive like Zandvoort or here in Sochi and we finish top six. We could even finish today in the podium.

“So there is something that we are doing good on the weekends and on Sundays, especially to score so many points with sometimes not the fastest car out there.

“So I’m very proud of the team, of the progress. We are working towards a very strong team and looking for next year hopefully the package is competitive out of the factory, but the team here at the race weekend is ready to fight.”

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2021 Russian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
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39 comments on ““We never get lucky” rues Alonso after losing podium finish”

  1. I’m not sure what to make of Alonso’s tactic at the race start. Watching the video, he clearly sets up for the outside of turn 2 from way back, moving to the left, and makes no attempt to stay on track around the corner, despite being under no pressure from any other driver and heads straight off round the outside and the bollards. He rejoins more or less where he left off. OK. So what then? Yet clearly he planned that move off track to gain an advantage, maybe avoiding any tangles at the corner or potentially being slowed down. Is this really justifiable racing?

      1. @situs Exactly. Definitely a pre-planned move by Alonso this.

      1. Hmm, lessons in racing integrity from the winner of the Singapore 2008 GP. He’s definitely proved a point by getting away with a blatant and rehearsed off-track excursion. But he should have been penalized for doing so.

        Reply moderated
    1. @david-br, first sorry I reported the comment due to pressing wrong button (this is happening a lot when using mobile).

      I believe that Alonso did it on purpose knowing it would lead to a clear line and preventing any position loss from being somehow blocked during the sequence. The way he went so clean and fast means he knew exactly what he was doing.
      But difficult to penalise because he can always claim he had to take that line to avoid a more dangerous situation due to the other cars in the racing line. Even if it sounds an excuse, for that situation and being the proper first braking corner in the first lap, there’s not much to argue against…

      1. @bakano he clearly did it on purpose as the only risk was from his own higher speed into the corner, actually part of his planned trajectory off track.

      1. @situs you forgot to say “voilà”. Good job centauri.
        @nnachev Fernando looked like the Alonso of old. He was on top of the track and the car all weekend, made it look easy.

    2. @david-br The Sky F1 commentators mentioned that Alonso was in the turn 2 runoff area on the formation lap, so it was almost certainly a pre-emptive move on his part. However, as @situs points out, he has called out the FIA repeatedly for failing to enforce track limits, so he is evidently doing exactly what he said he’d do.

      1. @red-andy If FIA had any sense of humour, they’d have penalized him :)
        Sure he’s made his point. But I don’t really see it as justifiable or worthy of applause, only of a penalty. Something about it irritates me (I seem unable to mention why…)

      2. @red-andy I guess it irritates me too that a brilliant driver has been reduced to spending his pre-race focus and energy on ‘making a point.’

        1. Making a point? It worked out perfectly. It’s about getting ahead using every legal means available. He learned in Austria that stewards didn’t care about drivers going off track on purpose in the first lap, so he did it and did it very well.

          I hate that it’s allowed, but if it is, it makes a lot of sense for Alonso to use it.

          1. Absolutely agree, when the referee does nothing start doing the same faults the others are doing, I applaud alonso for this, you either start gaining an advantage as well or finally force fia to give more meaningful penalties.

        2. I guess it irritates me too that a brilliant driver has been reduced to spending his pre-race focus and energy on ‘making a point.’

          Strange comment, specially when you consider it was part of his preparation, the sort of things that are precisely the reason why he’s a brilliant driver. Alonso had just seen he wasn’t like others exploiting a gray zone in the regulations, went for it on the next opportunities and it paid well.

          Reply moderated
      3. @red-andy, I didn’t notice that at all. Him being on the T2 runoff on the formation lap.

    3. @david-br if deemed intentional, it’s a drive-through penalty or race ban. if deemed unintentional, he would have had to give up a ton of positions. My stance on the stewards isn’t as keen as Alonso’s :-)

      1. @freelittlebirds Race ban is excessive. Nobody gets a race ban for cutting the track. Stewards have never done anything about anyone going out wide there as long as they go left of the bollard. Even if it was intentional, Alonso can basically deny it and it would be hard to prove.

        1. @mashiat my apologies, I may have accidentally reported your comment.

          If a moderator reads this, please ignore it.

          Yes, I agree. A race ban would be excessive.

          Reply moderated
    4. I must admit I too thought it was a pretty blatant effort and it resulted in a pretty big advantage both in position and in also blocking a number of others who had executed the corner correctly and were forced to abort their plans for positioning to avoid him.

      Even more surprising was that it wasn’t even flagged to be looked at.

      Good for him for trying it – not exactly fair play but given he got away with it, I guess it was.

    5. Definitely preplanned.

      Karun Chandhok on Sky in the build up to the race said he saw him practicing going through the run off chicane as fast as he could on his sighter laps after the pit lane opened before heading to the grid.

      Sure enough, as we then saw, on the opening lap he didn’t even try to make the corner.

    6. @david-br That was indeed questionable. While he rejoined the right way, i.e., between the polystyrene blocks, he still effectively gained an advantage, even if only temporary. This reminds me of Perez in 2019 French GP, going off at T3-T4 runoff on the opening lap but gaining positions despite using the marked path for rejoining. He got penalized for that.

  2. Crazy, he still hasn’t gotten a podium even though 13 drivers out of 19 (excluding Alonso) have gotten one.

    And there’s only been 1 podium driver with a P3, namely Gasly.

    1. @freelittlebirds

      Crazy, he still hasn’t gotten a podium even though 13 drivers out of 19 (excluding Alonso) have gotten one.

      Up to now 12 drivers finished on the podium this season.

      And there’s only been 1 podium driver with a P3, namely Gasly.

      You mean amongst the drivers who finished on the podium Gasly is the only one who didn’t manage any results better than P3? Then it’s right.

      Reply moderated
    2. Yes, really unlucky for alonso to not get a podium since 2014.

      1. @esploratore1 at least, he’s driving really well. I’m pretty sure his hope is to move to Red Bull.

        1. @freelittlebirds I don’t think that’s a realistic aspiration. Alonso will finish his F1 career at Alpine i’m sure. He’ll give it to the end of 2023, and if Alpine isn’t competitive or showing signs they can join the front runners then I think he’ll call it a day there.

          1. @kiethedin Yeah but it’s possible that next year, a Red Bull seat will become available. He’s been saying great things about Max lately which is uncharacteristic of Fernando – if he’s even paying a compliment, it’s usually in reference to something better that he did himself :-)

          2. @freelittlebirds Alonso has praised Hamilton, Ricciardo, Russell and Hulkenberg in the past without an agenda. Not sure why he wouldn’t to Max. Red Bull won’t hire him and I don’t think Alonso will want to move to Max’s team.

  3. This in a weekend for which Alonso finally put it all together in quali, his first all-round spectacular display of his comeback (he had many good quali performances already, but not yet anything really special before P6 in Sochi despite Alpine’s difficulties with inters) and going to the race, his prime game once again in action, just made it look like this already overdue podium was within reach. It might still come this season, nevertheless as Fernando himself said, without any major luck’s help his efficiency in scoring points has been incredible for the last 10 GPs, only 8 points behind Gasly in the WDC is not only a great feat as a driver against a car capable of starting in the second and third row of the grid so often (if having such a good driver like Pierre behin the wheel) but it’s also great news to Alpine as well because if Alonso is capable of remaining within close distance of Gasly in the championship, as the latter has been responsible for the vast majority of his team’s points, the quest for Alpine to finish P5 in the WCC becomes a lot easier. This is really important for them to build momentum as a reformulated team and improve their chances of building a competitive car for the next years under new regs, so it’s very much within Alonso’s interest as well.

    Reply moderated
    1. *he had many good one-lap performances already, but not yet anything really special before P6 in Sochi despite Alpine’s difficulties with inters
      Alonso’s quali performance in the British GP was exceptionally amazing due the sprint race. Otherwise, Russia was his first in-and-out nearly flawless quali performance of his Formula 1 comeback, arguably the last bit of peak Alonso that was still lacking. He matched or even further pushed up the limit of his powers in other departments. It’s very nice to see that he didn’t allow himself to feel too much comfortable even when most people keep saying he’s 100% on his prime again. Well, if he stops holding on in any battle to squeeze out the maximum performance possible from this Alpine car then he wouldn’t be the Alonso that we know.

      Reply moderated
  4. He drove an impeccable race. Sad not to see him on the podium, but the conditions were difficult to judge for everyone. Even Lewis thought the team had made an error.

    1. I think driving too well in the mediums as the rain started really compromised Alonso (and Vettel) today. A little more struggle and they could have gone for the inters a lap earlier.

  5. ALO drove a fantastic race today.

    Great control and strategy. Overtook VER and then RIC, SAI and PER in the drizzle. It was funny to see how much of a gap he was able to close using different lines and much better sense of the traction. Later the ast two were able to follow and attempt overtakes in the heavy rain but it was clear how much disoriented they became once getting in front for some brief moment ;).

    ALO missed P3 due an error in judgement for the wets getting late by a lap, perhaps due to some hesitance on the pit wall as they asked him what he thinks and he just explained what kind of analysis he would complete – leaders’ behavior and radar.

    I enjoyed his race even better than NOR vs SAI and HAM. Excellent!

  6. Awesome racing by Alonso where the car wasn’t supposed to be, that’s typical of him.

    Passing the championship leader, and the way he picked people off on slicks when it started to rain was superb.

    But listening to the radio, the engineer was actually taking directions from Alonso as if he was the team’s strategist, but the engineer was rubbish as when Alonso asks what does the radar say, he can’t even answer.

  7. I’m a bit surprised that Mazepin didn’t say that he had a chance to be on the podium if he made the right call. About a half a grid has said they should have been there but there are only 3 who can fit there.

  8. If by lucky he means, his side of the garage, then yes. Ocon had luck in Hungary.

    Reply moderated

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