“So this is the end of our race, I guess?” How Alonso’s luckless Australian GP unfolded

2022 Australian GP team radio transcript

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Fernando Alonso was the last driver to take the chequered flag at the end of the Australian Grand Prix.

But a little over 24 hours earlier this Alpine driver looked on course to pull off a major upset. Following a problem with his car in qualifying, he endured a luckless Sunday, as his radio messages relate.

Alonso set the timing screen alight with his first run in Q3, until he reached turn 11. There a hydraulic problem caused a failed downshift, pitching him wide and into a barrier.

The only upside was the lack of significant damage the gearbox meant Alonso’s car could be repaired without penalty. But a potential starting position on the first two rows turned into 10th on the grid.

With the soft tyres proving too fragile for a race stint and the mediums preferred by most drivers, Alonso was among the minority of drivers who opted to start the race on hard tyres. This promised to pay off if the race ran for a long time without a Safety Car period.

Qualifying misfortune left Alonso 10th on the grid
There was a brief interruption soon after the race started, when Carlos Sainz Jnr retired. He also started on the hard tyres, alongside Alonso, but got away poorly and soon spun into a gravel trap.

Alonso held 10th at this early stage. Further behind him last-placed Lance Stroll used the advantage of having no cars in his mirrors to get his mandatory tyre change out of the way. He pitted for medium compound tyres, did a lap, then had hard tyres fitted again, all behind the Safety Car.

But that wasn’t an option for Alonso, who was urged by race engineer Karel Loos to concentrate on keeping his tyre temperatures up behind the Safety Car ahead of the restart:

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1LoosYou’ve got yellow turn 10 at the moment.
1LoosGap 0.7 behind.
2LoosCareful with lift and shift between 13 and 14 please.
2LoosVirtual Safety Car, Virtual Safety Car. Your pit window is closed.
2LoosSo we’ve got a Virtual Safety Car for Sainz who’s stuck in the gravel exit of turn 10. Currently, you’re still P10. Let’s get straight onto keeping temperature in these tyres.
2LoosOkay full Safety Car, Safety car, staying out, staying out.
3LoosSo only car stopped, Stroll gone hard to medium. Can we have b-bal 12, b-bal 12.
3LoosDid you manage to get an initial feel for balance?
3AlonsoNot so much. Very low-grip. Still (unclear) I think.
3LoosYeah, copy.
3LoosGo B-bal 11, please, B-bal 11.
4LoosSo just an update on a situation behind so Stroll boxing again, going back to the hard tyre.
4LoosB-bal nine, B-bal nine.
4LoosLet’s try to keep doing all we can to keep temperature in these tyres.
4LoosOkay so Safety Car is in this lap. Suggest to do more weaving, more weaving.
5LoosSo for the restart just a few reminders. Reset your brake balance, which you’re just doing now – it will be recharge off for the restart.
5LoosAnd no overtaking until the control line.

After the restart the race began to come to Alonso. Gradually those who started on the medium compound gave them up for hards, including those ahead, some of which reappeared behind him.

Having followed Pierre Gasly since the start of the race, Alonso sniffed fresh air for the first time after the AlphaTauri driver pitted. He reeled off consecutive laps of 1’24.7, 1’24.6 and 1’24.6 as he finally tapped into the pace of the surprisingly rapid Alpine.

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8LoosOkay so DRS enabled.
8LoosCurrently 0.9 behind Gasly, Tsunoda 0.8 behind you.
9LoosTarget plus two.
10LoosOkay there might be some gravel around the exit of turn 11.
10LoosTyre update and update on status please.
11AlonsoStruggling a bit. Status zero. I try to overtake.
11LoosCopy that. People on the mediums also struggling with tyres at the moment.
12LoosOkay mate just a reminder we’re on plan A so need to be smart about this point at the moment.
13LoosJust a reminder, try to do what we can about slip exit of turn 11.
13LoosSo just try the bottom-right for turn six.
15AlonsoThey are too slow now, they are too slow now.
15LoosCopy that. Just for info car behind 2.5 is Bottas.
15AlonsoLocking up. I’ll be out of DRS just this lap.
15LoosCopy that mate. Try to stay patient.
16LoosSo everyone boxing.
17LoosOkay overtake available. Verstappen close at pit exit.
18LoosNice job mate. Suggest high-speed eight when you can, high-speed eight.
18AlonsoVery understeering.
19LoosOkay understood.
19LoosFail bravo two zero off. Fail bravo two zero off.
19AlonsoZero off?
19LoosTwo zero off, correct.
20LoosSuggest trying shape one, shape one.
21LoosOkay and behind Gasly just boxed.
21LoosExit 10 exit 10.
22LoosBehind you Bottas boxed. Car behind you is Hamilton now, just stopped for hard tyres.
22LoosAlso behind Bottas has now stopped for hard tyres as well. Only one car left on the medium, which is Russell.

But it didn’t last. On lap 23 Sebastian Vettel spun into the barriers at turn four, bringing out the Safety Car.

With more than half the race still to run, Alonso knew his strategy was fatally compromised, as attempting to finish the remaining 35 laps on a set of the medium rubber was not realistic.

22LoosOkay Safety Car, Safety Car, staying out, staying out.
22AlonsoAre you sure, mate? We can do… I don’t know.
22LoosNegative, staying out.
22AlonsoOkay, so this is the end of our race, I guess.
23AlonsoStill a long way to go, mate. There might be more opportunities.

At the restart Alonso was in fourth place, but the Safety Car had brought his pursuer back within range, and he was swiftly demoted by the likes of Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton on their medium tyres.

23LoosCan we have PU 13 position eight and watch out for debris where you are.
23Alonso13 position eight?
23LoosAffirm, 13 position eight.
23LoosSo for the next stop just for info we’re taking out plus four turns total from the front wing.
23AlonsoOkay. Yeah, but I will be overtaken now, it’s going to be a mess.
23LoosWe’ve got margin for some brake warming.
23AlonsoIt’s going to be a long one so you want to start now?
23LoosCopy that, keep doing some weaving if you can.
24LoosCan we have B-bal nine please.
24LoosSo correction can we go B-bal 12, please, B-bal 12.
25LoosSafety Car in this lap. Let’s work these tyres as much as we can then reset your brake balance. It will be recharge off for the restart.
25LoosSo recharge off.
27LoosSo Perez 0.4 behind.
28LoosDRS enabled.
28AlonsoYeah. It will be impossible to hold it back
28LoosCopy that mate.

Alonso clung to sixth for several laps while the McLaren drivers picked their way past Kevin Magnussen behind him.

He had just fallen into the clutches of the McLarens when Max Verstappen retired, triggering another Virtual Safety Car period. Alpine were just able to get him in for a pit stop during the brief delay, but he resumed out of the points in 13th.

28LoosRussell 0.4.
30LoosThe car behind you now is Magnussen. He’s got same age tyre as you.
32LoosYou are three-tenths quicker than Magnussen behind. Magnussen behind fighting with Norris and Ricciardo.
33LoosSo car behind now is Norris, 2.6 behind.
35LoosTo Norris, 2.3, he did a 23.9.
35LoosTime to gain compared to Norris is 12 and 13.
36LoosHow are the tyres?
36AlonsoFront-left gone.
36LoosOkay, so when you can go exit 11, exit 11, and high-speed five.
36LoosNorris now 1.1 behind.
36LoosOvertake available.
38LoosSafety Car window is open. Virtual Safety Car, Virtual Safety Car. So stick to your delta. And you’re happy with four turns on front wing?
38AlonsoI guess so.
38AlonsoCheck if Norris overtook me at turn one under yellow.
38LoosYep will do. We are boxing this lap.
38AlonsoOkay box.
38LoosYou will come out in traffic so push at pit exit.
38LoosPit exit, can overtake until Safety Car Line Two.
38LoosVSC ending, VSC ending.
Alonso felt Gasly took too long to pass Stroll

Alonso’s misfortune had left him behind, among others, Stroll, who now had Gasly in his mirrors. Alonso was mystified by the amount of time it was taking the AlphaTauri driver to clear the Aston Martin.

40Loos17 laps to go at the end of this lap.
41LoosThis train of cars is held up by Stroll in P9.
44LoosAlonso passes Schumacher
Nice one mate.
44LoosSo for further info Stroll ahead has a five second penalty.
47AlonsoWho is in the AlphaTauri?
47Alonso[Unclear] why he don’t overtake.
48LoosSchumacher 0.4 behind.
49LoosGasly has got past Stroll.

Now one of only two drivers on mediums, Alonso found his degraded quickly in the queue of traffic. Magnussen, the other driver on the same compound, appeared in his mirrors as Alonso was passed by Zhou Guanyu and sunk to 13th.

At this point he pitted for another set of mediums, seemingly in an effort to entertain himself with a bid for the fastest lap. Though by this point he was clearly doomed to finish outside the top 10 and therefore could not score the bonus point.

49AlonsoThe front left completely gone.
49LoosMid one available, mid one.
50LoosZhou 0.4 behind.
50LoosCar ahead of you now is Stroll.
50LoosSo reminder Stroll has a five second penalty and ahead Albon still needs to stop.
51LoosSo Magnussen 0.3 behind.
51AlonsoYeah the front left [unclear] think what to do.
51LoosCopy that.
52LoosOkay mate we’re going to box this lap for another set of mediums.
52LoosSo box this lap.
52LoosClear on pit exit. Perez about five seconds behind.
53LoosThree laps remaining after this one.
53LoosPerez at the moment doing 21.9.
53LoosSolid blue for Perez behind.
53LoosGot Russell and Hamilton still coming up behind.
53LoosSolid blue for Russell. It’s back to flashing blue.
55LoosCurrently the fastest lap is 20.9.
55LoosSolid blue for Russell behind.
55LoosAnd next car behind is Hamilton, currently flashing blue for him.
55LoosThere’s a 21 second gap behind Hamilton. Solid blue now for Hamilton.
55LoosSOC two available SOC two.

On his final lap Alonso produced a 1’20.846 which stood as the second-fastest lap of the day. Race winner Charles Leclerc had kept enough in hand for a late flier which ensured he did not lose the bonus point.

But for Alonso, a weekend which promised so much yielded nothing. Esteban Ocon in the other Alpine came home in the position Alonso’s strategist predicted he would have taken had it not been for an ill-timed Safety Car.

56LoosOkay and scenario 12 please, scenario 12.
57LoosSorry mate a tough one. Leclerc improved his lap to 20.3 at the end.
57AlonsoWhat was our race without a safety car? P7?
57LoosEr… yes.
EndLoosOkay so finishing order Leclerc, Perez, Russell, then Hamilton, Norris, Ricciardo. Esteban finished P7 in front of Bottas, Gasly and Albon.

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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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24 comments on ““So this is the end of our race, I guess?” How Alonso’s luckless Australian GP unfolded”

  1. Sure he got a badly timed safety car. But his performance on fresh tyres from lap 38 onwards has nothing to do with luck. Something the Alonso fan club gloss over as it doesn’t fit the narrative.

    1. He had to overtake or finish off points. It was the last stint. There was no other chance anymore.

    2. Being a member of that club I can say it was KARMA

      1. @Qeki

        And perhaps Hamilton is finally getting a dose of KARMA himself for starting the incident in Hungary in 2007 and the fallout between ALO and McLaren.

        In case you are not aware, the infamous incident in qualifying at Hungary in 2007, was initiated by HAM. HAM was ordered by the team to let ALO go by so he could get in a flyer. HAM, a rookie refused to follow orders which incensed ALO and caused him to respond HAM in kind by holding up in the pits.

        ALO was penalized 5 spots on the grid which hurt and most likely prevented his chances of winning the WDC.

        Obviously ALO’s actions after that incident were wrong. But let’s not paint HAM as an innocent victim. If Karma does exist, HAM’s time may have finally arrived.

        1. @Ken +1

        2. 15 years and 7 championships later…

          1. Maybe the 8th WDC that was in the bag for him until the Latifi crash was the beginning of his misfortune.

          2. Read last sentence. Granted it’s late in coming.

    3. @cduk_mugello He rejoined the race well outside the top 10. He had to risk it trying to pass several cars in a DRS train. Sometimes you just have to go for it and risk the long-term. He had nothing to lose. Finishing 17th and 12th is no different in points.

  2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    14th April 2022, 8:13

    “The car behind you now is Magnussen. He’s got same age tyre as you.”

    To me this fact explains just how poorly alonso managed his tyres. He got passed by both Magnussen and Schumacher, and will have certainly got passed by tsunoda on track too had he not pitted. Probably latifi too.

    1. That last stint is a mystery. I was really expecting him to fly by the cars in front having much fresher and softer tyres. The reality was rather disappointing

  3. Bad luck, but I believe it’s only a matter of time before bad luck turns into happiness. His speed in qualifying was a great encouragement after a long time.

  4. I think the weekend just went to the gutter for him starting in Q3. He could have put that car on P4 if not P3, instead started P10. When the race was finally coming to him, the safety car came out. When he put on the mediums he got stuck in a DRS train. I think he just had enough at that point. Tyre condition, pit stops, etc didn’t even matter.

    Hopefully, he finds this form for another race weekend and it goes clean for him. Have no doubt he can put it on the podium this year.

  5. Fail bravo two zero off. Fail bravo two zero off.

    Am I the only one who gets the “Bravo Two Zero” reference?

    1. @geemac Yeah I noticed that! Accidental Partridge too…

    2. I don’t know about that reference, but bravo means good in italian, so it could be taken as a joke comment “good one, that’s a fail race”!, joking ofc cause there’s a huge amount of bad luck in this weekend.

      1. @esploratore1 Bravo Two Zero was the name of an SAS unit which was deployed in the Gulf War. There is a cracking book about what happened to them.

  6. Wellbalanced
    14th April 2022, 9:48

    Positive feedback for RaceFans: these full-race radio transcripts, with analysis, are my favourite articles on this site.

    Second favourite: the race weekend diaries.

  7. He reeled off consecutive laps of 1’14.7, 1’14.6 and 1’14.6

    This doesn’t seem right. Shouldn’t these be 1’24s?

    1. Indeed – sorry, my bad.

  8. Having your strategy hinge on the non-appearance of the safety car at Albert Park, of all places, does not seem like the best gamble.

    1. Worse would be trying that in monaco or jeddah or singapore!

    2. That was my thought – High speed street circuit, likes of Stroll, Latify, and even Seb now, on circuit and you’re gunning for a strategy that hopes there ISN’T a safety car??

    3. @red-andy But it completely depended on when that safety car came out. Coming out at 1/3 distance was disastrous for those starting on hands. Coming out at 2/3 race distance would have been amazing. You can’t predict those things. Given that both he and Sainz were starting out of position compared to their expected race pace, I like going for the contrary strategy to give them better chances of making progress.

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