Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Circuit of the Americas, 2021

Alpine not at recent level in Austin despite race day gains – Alonso

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Fernando Alonso says Alpine improved their performance during the United States Grand Prix weekend, but not to the level they reached in previous rounds.

In brief

Alpine not as strong in USA as in Russia or Turkey – Alonso

Alonso changed his power unit, incurring a penalty, after Alpine realised they weren’t in good shape at Circuit of the Americas last weekend. He said their race pace was more encouraging, but the team need to “find some answers” over their lack of performance in the last round.

“In the race the car was much better. I felt more competitive, definitely I was faster than Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, even Tsunoda, so teams that in free practice we were not as quick as we were today. So it was a nice step forward in the race I felt. But still not as good as Sochi or Turkey.

“So we need to keep analysing, probably the bumps. The suspension is very specific what you run here in Austin, because the characteristics of the circuit is something that we didn’t get it right and we will try to analyse and be in our top form in Mexico.”

Aitken returning to Williams cockpit

Jack Aitken will return to drive for Williams in the first practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The four-time Formula 2 race winner, who drove for the team in last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix, suffered a broken collarbone and a fractured vertebra in a crash during the 24 Hours of Spa in July.

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Comment of the day

Martin Brundle’s brush with Megan Thee Stallion’s entourage on the grid prompted Jztemple to ask whether sports broadcasters are wasting their time trying to interview celebrities:

From a personal view, I’d much rather Martin interview actual race participants, team members and others from the F1 community.

I don’t watch the grid walk to see non-racing celebrity interviews. Does Liberty think that having non-racing celebrity interviews will boost F1 viewership?

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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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28 comments on “Alpine not at recent level in Austin despite race day gains – Alonso”

  1. So sad for Fernando, if he had even half the car Jammy Ham has he’d be giving Sir Max a run for his talent this year…..

    1. Nandy

      So sad for Fernando, if he had even half the car Jammy Ham has he’d be giving Sir Max a run for his talent this year…..

      He would probably be at least 30 points ahead of Max in the championship if he had a car as fast as that Mercedes. Just look how Lewis rarely helps the team with strategy in a meaningful way (let alone his blunders this season), despite being very good in executing many different calls whenever they’re given, whilst Fernando made strategy work even in the operational mess that Ferrari became after the 2000s – As a comparision Leclerc and Sainz either can’t or don’t bother trying to do the same today, and the Scuderia didn’t get any better or worse than his time there.

      1. You called 30 because it is a nice number? I mean it’s fine if you think that, but you’re on a forum with lots of F1 nerds. At least give some insight and make 30 points even remotely defendable. I’m not saying you’re wrong, that’s a bold statment about hypothesizing anyway, but your statement has a few holes in it. I mean, Alonso to have a car as fast as the Merc. So Hamilton and Bottas both still in Mercs? Or do you mean a swap between Alonso and Hamilton? And Ocon, does he also get a faster Alpine or just Alonso? And how much time would Alonso need to learn the car? I mean, it took some time to be competitive in the Alpine.

        1. baasbas

          I mean, Alonso to have a car as fast as the Merc. So Hamilton and Bottas both still in Mercs? Or do you mean a swap between Alonso and Hamilton? And Ocon, does he also get a faster Alpine or just Alonso? And how much time would Alonso need to learn the car? I mean, it took some time to be competitive in the Alpine.

          Okay, let me explain from here how I’ve reached this somewhat bold conclusion (why I think he probably wouldn’t be 100 points ahead, 5 points ahead or 15 points behind by now). The comparision is with Hamilton’s current season performance. Alonso took 5 races to get to full speed with Alpine, in which he lagged behind 7 points to Ocon. If he was in a top team, the point losses would be higher in absolute numbers, so let’s say he would lose 4 times more (whilst hardly a top team can mantain an average of 16 points driver/race, Alpine’s average points position by driver was close to 8th for the first five races, so 4pts.). Ocon doesn’t seem to be the best driver out there, but Alonso also should have scored points in Bahrain if not for mechanical issues, so let’s compromise with a loss of 25-30 points through his adaptation phase.
          After that, Alonso didn’t drop any points like Hamilton did in unforced errors or underwhelming weekends. In Imola he lost 7 (could be much more if not for luck, but let’s ignore this for simplicity), in Monaco he was a performing struggler (2nd was possible as demonstrated by Bottas, finished 7th), in Baku he fluffed the restart, another blunder by himself (at least 18 points thrown away, maybe even a win down the flush toilet), in Austria II collected damage attacking the kerbs in a wrong way (finished 4th after comfortably running for a 2nd), in Turkey his insistance in the wrong strategy took him out of podium contention (5th instead of a likely 3rd).
          Now to be fair, let’s leave out of the equation clashes in which Hamilton lost points fighting for position, like against Verstappen in Silverstone and Monza, as those weren’t unforced errors, and Alonso had one with Gasly in Turkey (he wasn’t the one to blame but this is little consolation). Not sure if Alonso would have avoided those title fighting costly incidents, certainly not all of them, although it’s reasonable to assume there would be less of it as in this season he got involved in only one clash that brought heavy misforture for himself. Those are complicated to take into account, lots of what ifs, so let’s say it levels out with at least one unlucky strategy calls Alonso made (in Turkey his rain gamble didn’t pay-off as he had a podium finish to lose, Hamilton’s worked and he scored a win).
          This analysis is actually generous also because in numerous occasions Alonso would probably do a better strategy than Hamilton if he had a machinery of the same level, no matter much if in a hyperfast Alpine when comparing to today’s standards or if he was at Mercedes in his place, the effect would not be very different. With the strategy Alonso have done last race in COTA, first stint of 7 laps and maybe keeping a two-stop strategy, he could have won the race if Alpine was as fast as Mercedes. Same thing for Paul Ricard, and maybe even Zandvoort, even though that would be very hard, as Red Bull had a clear advantage there, but we had seen Alonso doing it before particularly in 2012, converting relatively small machinery performance deltas into race wins. Why wouldn’t he do that again? He’s even more experienced today to be able to pull this out. But for most of the remaining races in which Hamilton didn’t win, probably it’s too much to ask of anyone. It was very hard to impossible to beat Verstappen/ Red Bull in their home turf anyway, for instance. And we’re talking about relentless competition here.
          So coming back to unforced errors related to consistency, performance and strategy. Only on those blunders alone Hamilton lost at least 55 points (just count it again in the second paragraph if you don’t believe it). He’s currently 12 points behind Verstappen in the WDC, so with a 55 points turnaround – and actually it would be even more as it takes points away from his title rival, not at the same rate but maybe a third or a half, let’s say a minumum of additional 20 points: (55+20-12-30=33) – so that Alonso would in fact be 33 points ahead of Verstappen in the championship, and regardless of any reasonable fluctuations of figures and all the variables involved it probably won’t be very far from my initial guess. This is the explanation of the way how Alonso dragged a third or fourth fastest car overall down to the wire in a WDC fight, the awkward and hardly tameable SF2012. So even discouting an adaptation phase, it’s now clear that it wouldn’t have that much of an impact on his performance across a whole season. As much as part of all discussed here is just plain speculation and we can’t be sure of how it would have panned out if Alonso was in the championship fight, just stick to that number: the total of points that Hamilton lost through unforced errors along this season and the fact that Alonso didn’t, albeit having to fight for his life and charge through the field as much as his old rival or even more.

  2. Indy article forgot that alonso has also won lemans.

    1. He wasn’t an active F1 driver at that point. There have been plenty of former F1 drivers who won Le Mans (or drivers who had quit F1 but went back after winning Le Mans) since 1991. Kobayashi won this year’s 24H, for example. Buemi and Nakajima were teammates with Alonso when they won the ’18 and ’19 races. Brendon Hartley had already won Le Mans when he entered F1, but he won again after that. Marc Gené, Alexander Wurz and David Brabham won in 2009. Emmanuelle Pirro in 2007, 2006, 2002, 2001 and 2000. JJ Lehto in 2005 (and 1995). And there’s probably more in the 90’s.

      It’s not unusual for former F1 drivers to compete in Le Mans and even win, but Hülkenberg remains the only active F1 driver who won Le Mans since 1991.

    2. Presumably they mean “the only active F1 driver since 1991” because otherwise they would also be missing Buemi, Kobayashi, Nakajima, Lotterer, and quite a few others (Johnny Herbert won in 1991 while also in F1 that season).

  3. What’s a discussion about celebrity interviews doing on a site like this?

    1. This is a third mention now.

      Brundle knew exactly what would happen. He went for the ‘interview’ on purpose hoping to generate negative publicity. Liberty might pick up on this and make better arrangements for its invited vips: don’t send them on the grid with a pack of bodyguards, tell them they will get interviewed about F1, or even better: go for celebrities that actually like F1

      So maybe we need to endure a bit more of this and stretch it into a few more separate articles even. A nice breakdown of the ‘interview’ and how this reflects badly on Liberty. Generate publicity for the greater good?

      1. I thought this site was for racefans, not tabloid lovers.

        To me racefans.net is going in the same direction as Liberty; creating more useless content without sticking to the core of the sport.

        1. I have a (distant) hope that if we ridicule it enough it will go away

          1. The problem with this site (and all Social Media), is that they don’t care what we think, but only care if we ‘click-on’ it and ‘comment on it’.
            Maybe I should just shut up (again) ;)

          2. I just realized we might indeed be the Statler and Waldorf here, being irrelevant and all..


    2. In defence of this site who Brundle doorsteps on the grid to ask an inane question of is in the same ballpark as what Hamilton wears on fashion Thursday. And that seems to generate plenty of hits.

  4. Ordinarily, giving away FP1 in Abu Dhabi is entirely trivial, given the session occurs in the afternoon.
    Because of YMC’s changes, I’m not sure reducing a regular driver’s practice time is the best idea.
    Surprising, Aitken is still with Williams anyway, considering his role has become redundant over time.

    I share COTD’s view 100%.

  5. Is it me or is that W series Champion belt not a Wonder Woman belt?

    1. I thought it was a wrestling (the staged one) belt.

      What’s weird though is to describe the title as ‘Women’s Champion’.
      I thought Jamie has become a double ‘World Champion” of the W-series.

      1. W-series isn’t a world championship.
        Not according to the FIA, anyway.

  6. COTD: Agree. Celebrity interviews before the race are just filler: “How are you doing, who are you supporting?” “I’m here at team X, great fan of the sport, the cars are so fast.” “Ok thanks”.

    Then again, most prerace interviews with drivers or anyone else fall mainly to the same category… “Let’s see what happens”, “Obviously it’s the same for everyone”, “There will be opportunities” etc. are the typical answers. Don’t remember the last time there was anything actually interesting said before the race.

  7. Who the …. is this “Megan Thee Stallion” and why the …. does Martin Brundle want to interview her?

    1. Sounds like a racing horse.

      1. She has a royal first name, misspelled number as her second name and her family seems to have something to do with a four legged mammal. The perfect name for a rapper.

  8. Here is an interesting rounded up article that some of you may be interested in from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s news site- “Jacques Villeneuve’s Multimillion-Dollar Tax Dodges Exposed in Leaked Files”:

    1. @ferrox-glideh

      Here is an interesting rounded up article that some of you may be interested in from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s news site- “Jacques Villeneuve’s Multimillion-Dollar Tax Dodges Exposed in Leaked Files”:

      Good for him. More guys should do the same. Leave all your money in a single place and a single currency is plain silly.

      1. @rodewulf He is being no better than a thief, and he should renounce his Canadian citizenship if he has a problem paying his fair share of taxes. He actually applied for a handout because he claimed to have earned less than the poverty rate! What a selfish jerk! I imagine his father is probably rolling in his grave. JV has no regard for the society that helped make him what he is. Anyone who can afford to pay their fair share but does not is a dishonorable and selfish sociopath. Let me know your excuses for him, and don’t talk about freedom, because freedom is never free. And remember that the bad loop-holed laws that let him get away with this were made by bad men too.

        1. @ferrox-glideh
          In your big govt utopia the rich pay high taxes that will benefit the poor. In reality rich politicians themselves (even from the left) go away with it and inflation is the gift for the working class!

          1. @rodewulf Just because it happens, doesn’t make it right. This article is about trying to make these greedheads accountable (pardon the pun).

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