Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Losail International Circuit, 2021

Alonso was “waiting so long” for podium as he ends seven-year drought

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso said he’d been waiting a long time to return to a Formula 1 podium following his third-place finish in the Qatar Grand Prix.

He reached the rostrum for the first time in seven years having started third, after grid penalties for Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen were applied after qualifying. He held onto the position thanks to a risky one-stop strategy on a day when several of his rivals suffered punctures.

“We planned one-stop from the beginning but we never knew how bad was the wear and degradation, it’s a new race for everybody,” remarked Alonso. “But I think it was quite well executed in the race, [the] pit stop was fantastic, the team was great and the reliability of the car is superb – and they deserve it.”

He did 23 laps on his first set of soft tyres, putting him in the window for a one-stop strategy. There were concerns over whether Alonso could make a 34-lap stint on the hard tyres work, especially after drivers such as Lando Norris, George Russell, and Nicholas Latifi suffered late tyre failures.

But he was able to manage his rubber to the end, aimed by a late Virtual Safety Car intervention for Latifi’s stopped Williams, which delayed the rapidly-closing Sergio Perez behind him.

Alonso finished 2.8 seconds ahead of the Red Bull driver for the final podium position – his first since finishing second in the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix.

“Unbelievable,” said Alonso. “Seven years, but finally we got it. We were close a couple of races but not enough. Sochi was the last possibility.”

He admitted he hoped “to be leading after lap one” as he started on the soft rubber. “I thought, with the red tyre, I could have a go on Lewis Hamilton][. But I couldn’t.

“Then with Checo it was very close at the end. But very happy for the team, also Esteban [Ocon] P5 – so a good Sunday.”

“I am enjoying it,” added Alonso, who returned to F1 this year after sitting out two seconds. “I was waiting so long for this, I’m happy!” he exclaimed.

With Alonso third and Ocon fifth, plus the two AlphaTauris of Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda finishing out of the points, Alpine now have a 25 point lead over AlphaTauri for fifth in the constructors’ championship, with just two races left.

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RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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49 comments on “Alonso was “waiting so long” for podium as he ends seven-year drought”

  1. Marvellous to see Alfonso on the podium again!!

  2. That podium could somewhere in the future be as legendary as spanish GP 93

    1. I see what you mean, but the only difference is that Alain Prost was winning the championship that year! haha

    2. That was a straight Prost victory, but I fail to remember anything particularly legendary about it. Please illustarte me.

      Gilles’ victory at the Jarama was truly legendary but it was ’81. And I was there, hehe.

      1. First time Prost, Senna, Schumacher podium in F1. Future 14 championships between them

        1. And by the way those championship were not all “future”. That same year (93) Le Professeur won his fourth and last Championship. All seven championships by Der Meister where future, but The Divebomber’s ones were all in the past already.

      2. OK, it was the podium, no the race itself. And I believe it was not just the first time the Professor, the Meister and the Divebomber shared a podium, it was the only one.

  3. Last year, I said that it wouldn’t be easy with Fernando.
    And it certainly wasn’t easy with Fernando.

  4. “(…)who returned to F1 this year after sitting out two seconds.”

    That was a quick comeback by Alonso.

    1. Quick indeed, considering how far back the team was.

  5. And the first time Alonso got on the podium Lewis was starting his 2nd year in the junior formulas and Max was 5 years old. Now Lewis is 7 time champion and Max is 24.

  6. What made this podium even more special was his tyre state.

  7. Alpine please give this man a top car next year. What a welcome sight seeing good old Alonso on the podium after years.

    1. Yeah, I agree, would be really good to see them being able to fight for the podium more regularly.

  8. Imagine if Alonso was in either the Mercedes or Red Bull this year.

    1. Well, if he were team-mate to Lewis or Max, he’d be beaten. Just less than Bottas and Perez.

      1. Emma,
        We have already a clear demonstration about how he gave Hamilton a hard time in a slower Alpine in Hungaroring. Hamilton’s pace was blistering in that race and he sorted every driver he got in his way but Alonso in a couple of laps. Hamilton and Verstappen are faster than Fernando in qualy but in race condition Alonso is a beast and he knows all the tricks. Maybe he will got beaten but it will not be a walk in the park like it is now for Bottas and Perez.

    2. He would be leading the Championship.

      1. I believe peak Alonso, which was in 2012, would beat current level Lewis and Max over the course of the season in similar machinery. He will lose the qualification battle, but will make it up in the races. He rarely makes mistakes and is always there to capitalise, hence he places immense pressure on his rivals.

        Alonso of today may not beat Lewis and Max over a season, but it will certainly be a close run thing.

        1. Fair points well made. One thing for certain he would most certainly scored significantly more points than Perez & Bottas & the Championship would be a 3 way battle whether he was in a RB or Merc.

        2. @Jaymenon10

          No chance of winning the title then Alonso is not gonna beat them off the line every race. You must believe Alonso is about 1 second faster in race trim to pass the same car on same tyres? No way first car would always pit first. Alonso would of beat Lewis in 2016 as Lewis for some wierd reason had loads of awful starts that isit. It took Lewis alot to beat Nico in 14 as he was getting out qualified(Alonso would be getting outqualified every week) you need a huge delta. Alonso would not be beating Lewis right now he goes life and death with Ocon who went life and death with checo

    3. It would be interesting to see whether he could get he’s team mate to crash on purpose…

  9. Part of me was worried that we will never see Fernando on the podium ever again, hence I am relieved in a way.

    That was a nail biting finish! I have no doubt the VSC saved the result, if not, it would have been nip and tuck.

    Once again, a great drive from Fernando, measured and in control all the way through. Masterful! The one thing he has always done and continues to do so is to maximise every result, and today was no diffrent.

    I doubt Alpine will be competitive next year, but one can hope! Even if its the third or fourth fastest car, we could see Fernando nick the odd podium and perhaps even a win.

    1. Esteban Ocon got a win (a very lucky one but still), so a podium for Fred was in the cards.

    2. I do believe Alpine will be competitive next year. With this result they have significantly risen above AlphaTauri and are just behind McLaren in the constructors’ standings – 5th. That’s a great improvement from where they were at the beginning of the season. They were significantly compromised by a wind tunnel issue during car development. I don’t think they will face such an issue in the development of next year’s car. Everyone is starting from square one, so I am fully confident for 2022.

  10. I was waiting so long to see the sight of Alonso on an F1 podium. There were times this year when I didn’t have much hope for him. His pre-season preparations were heavily compromised by the bicycle accident. He didn’t have proper pre-season testing, and in the first 5 or 6 races he was outperformed by Ocon hands down. I was really worried whether that was it. What a bounce back he had since Baku! After so many years away from the sport (but winning nevertheless), he’s back to write a new glorious chapter which, I’ve always believed, would be his greatest.

    1. All that’s left to do now is win Indy…

  11. Wonderful drive! A bit lucky, for once, but he’d have finished best of the rest anyways, such a long wait indeed! Kudos to him, easily DOTW for me.

  12. I think it has been clear for since Hungary in early August that Alpine have the best team, in terms of driver points distribution, and their all round car performance. They are improving their one lap pace in these last two races and will cement 5th place in constructors’ championship in 3 weeks time. I hear that Davide Brivio is wanting to leave his position as team principle at Alpine to return back to Moto GP, and that Otmar Szafnauer has been approached to leave Aston Martin and join Alpine in 2022. The new regulations will reset the whole grid back to zero, and this has all the hallmarks of when Mercedes had Hamilton and Rosberg in 2013 developing their dominant Mercedes hybrid power unit and aero performance and scoring points in the same way as Ocon and Alonso have done over the last 3 months.
    Only Ferrari can boast the same type of driver combination this season, and it will be Alpine and Ferrari who show the biggest improvement next year.

    1. Also Haas, I believe, since they have said at the beginning of the season that all their energies are devoted to 2022.

      1. Eric Osman they are nothing like Nico and Lewis not quick enough over a lap Ocon is basically Perez a lil quicker in qually slower in the race. Today Alonso was not on another level to Ocon atall. they came 3rd and 5th which woulda been 5th and 7th. Whilst it would be good to see Alonso in a car the same speed as the top 2 it would not mean he would be winning titles at 40 and neither would Ocon lol. Russel will show next year what a talent can do when vs Hamilton and i say that as a Lewis fan. Giovanazzi and Ocon should be ashamed at there age advantage and not being quicker. I know a young Lewis would beat a old Alonso he did when they were young and i know a young Alonso would beat a 40 year old Lewis.

  13. That performance deserves a Freddo

  14. Delighted for the man.
    He is one of the true characters of F1 and I suspect he will appreciate this podium far more than a lot of the other self entitled drivers on the grid.

  15. An incredible drive from an incredible driver, refreshing to see a car hustled like that into positions out of its reach

  16. Both Mercs
    Both Red Bulls
    Both Ferraris
    Both McLarens
    Both Alpines
    One Alpha Tauri
    One Aston Martin
    One Williams

    13 drivers on the podium this year so far.

  17. Very well deserved final podium for alonso, there were occasions here and there, also at mclaren, but always something happening; finally it didn’t, in fact sort of good luck with bottas’ puncture and perez’s pit stop decision.

    It’s not obvious it’ll be the final one, much depends on the car, but there’s a good possibility.

  18. I still think Alonso, as a championship contender, is head and shoulders above the rest. I wish he had a car capable of at least fighting for wins, because the guy is just relentless. He’s been at his peak since the beginning.

    Deserved podium. Plenty of times this season he was amazing but something backfired on him. Glad he got it now.

    1. @fer-no65

      The man is far to close in qually and some races with Esteban Ocon a man who was equal with perez lol. Alpine obviously great car today if someone like Ocon can get 5th. Head and shoulders is hilarious, Max would wipe the floor with him and so would Lewis. He is not a great qually driver and you need a huge delta to pass a teammate in f1 he aint head and shoulders better atall. Did you miss 07? Alonso choked the title away in japan. He got dominated by a rookie 2 wet races in Fuji and Shanghai. Lewis was another level both times in the clutch moment.

      1. Did you miss 07? When Lewis lost the championship choking and running into the gravel in China while leading the WDC? Yes, another level in the clutch moment. I think your reasoning is a little flawed here.

  19. I wouldn’t take a single data point as evidence that his season long performance would be at a particular level. One could use examples from other races where he got overtaken far quicker to assert the opposite. But all this is conjecture really that isn’t very useful.

    1. This was meant to be a response to @tifoso1989

  20. Spot on Emma if it was the straight like Budapest Ocon woulda kept Perez behind aswell but it was longer. Budapest is extremely hard to overtake at that race is overrated by Alonso if he was further up the grid he may have won the race like his teammate did. Ocon came 5th today some what 10 secs behind or someing. Ocon who was basically kneck and kneck with Checo they were as even as you can be is far to close to Alonso for him to mentioned in Hamilton or Vestappens class.

  21. We had arguably the three greatest natural driver talents on the podium today. OK so Vettel and Raikkonen both have world titles but I don’t think either of them is quite in the same class as the three podium takers.

  22. Well deserved! Nice to see the real GOAT (since Schumacher) get a trophy for his superhero efforts!

  23. Well deserved podium. Great move on Gasly on lap 1 and he beat a Red Bull on merit over qualifying and the race. Despite the narrative Perez was not catching Alonso fast enough regardless off VSC. Alonso was still doing high 1.26s on lap 53 with an 8.3 second lead while Perez’s fastest lap was a 1.25.6. Perez would have caught him on lap 60 (of 57…)

  24. Ahead of the very noob Ferrari and the not so noob McLaren! XD

  25. Proves that Alonso still has got it. 2 world championships, won Monoco, Daytona 24, Le Mans 24, should have most F1 starts of any driver soon, one of the oldest to get a podium in the modern era.

    Whether this means he is still at or even above Hamilton’s and Verstappen’s level I do not know but I really wish Alpine give him a car next so we can find out.

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