Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Monaco, 2023

Alonso defends Aston Martin’s strategy as Horner says they ‘totally let us off the hook’

2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso insisted Aston Martin did not squander an opportunity to win the Monaco Grand Prix by pitting him for slick tyres as rain fell during the race.

The Aston Martin driver returned to the pits soon after to fit intermediate tyres, as did most of the rest of the field including race leader and eventual winner Max Verstappen.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said they should have brought Verstappen in sooner. “I think with 20:20 hindsight we should have probably pitted one lap earlier to go onto the inter,” he told media including RaceFans after the race.

While Horner doubts Alonso would have beaten Verstappen had he taken intermediate tyres when he came in, he said the Aston Martin driver would have been much closer.

“I think we had enough margin with the nine or 10 seconds [lead] that Max had when he pitted that even five or six seconds off the pace we’d have still been three or four up the road,” said Horner.

“I was surprised they took the medium tyre,” he added. “That totally let us off the hook.”

However Alonso said he was “surprised” to face questions over his team’s decision not to fit the intermediate tyres.

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“I didn’t leave the race from the cockpit as probably you saw on the outside,” he said in the press conference after the race. “For me it was very clear that the track, on that lap we stopped, was completely dry, apart from turn seven and eight. So how I will put the inters?

Gallery: 2023 Monaco Grand Prix in pictures
“It was completely dry, 99% of the track. So I stopped for dries, the weather forecast was [for a] small shower and a small quantity of rain as well, what we had, as a team. And we had a lot of margin behind us to put the dry tyres and if necessary the inter tyres.

“So maybe it was extra-safe, I don’t know, but that minute and a half that it took to go through turn, five, six, seven and eight again, it changed completely. The out-lap on the dry tyres, it was very wet when I got to those corners. But the lap that we stopped it was completely dry.”

Had the race stayed dry, Alonso does not believe the team would have been able to beat Red Bull. “I think we didn’t have a chance to be honest.” he said. “I think we were brave on the strategy. It’s not normal that you start on the first row of the grid and you choose the hard tyre trying to do the opposite of the leaders. That shows the commitment from the team and how aggressive everyone was in Aston Martin trying to get the win.

“We knew that it was some downside, that the strategy we could end up maybe be P5, P6 or something like that out of the podium. But this morning we discussed and we said we had a couple of podiums this year so we go for all or nothing and we start on the hard tyre. And we didn’t have the pace. That was the only problem we had in the race.

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“I think the strategy was good. The medium tyre was behaving surprisingly good in our opinion. We were hoping for more graining or bigger degradation and Max was able to drive 50 laps on an amazing place. And that was the reason why he won the race, not because the strategy, he was just faster than us.”

He is adamant the team made the correct decision when the rain fell. “They said it’s going to be a short shower, we don’t know the quantity but it should be not too heavy,” he recalled. “And I said ‘we go to the dries’. Turn five, six, seven was a few drops of rain and the rest of the circuit was dry.”

“There was no chance to win today,” he insisted, saying those who believe they missed an opportunity to beat Red Bull saw “a different race than what we saw in the team, and we were P2.”

“P1 was very fast today. In any tyre, in any conditions, Max was always quicker than us.”

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2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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    24 comments on “Alonso defends Aston Martin’s strategy as Horner says they ‘totally let us off the hook’”

    1. That tyre choice was inexcusable. But ultimately, they finished the race where they would’ve finished anyway.

      1. Yeah, it did not change anything in the end.

        1. It would had changed a lot. They were losing hell of a lot of time from turn 3 to turn 6 on slicks. When Max pitted the gap was only 20 seconds. So that would had been close, were it not for Alonso having to pit again too.

          Had Alonso pitted for inters straight away it is likely to say he would had won much more time on Verstappen through the wet part of the circuit and would had come out in front after Max’s pitstop.

          1. Absolutely true, that’s what I noticed as well: I understand alonso’s point, that you can’t pit for inters on a track that is almost completely dry, but had they gone for it I also think he had a good chance to win.

            People who disagree with this chance being there forget that alonso only lost 13 sec to verstappen despite pitting twice vs 1, how is that? He gained 7 sec or so in 1 lap after he changed tyres, that would’ve been more on inters, and 22 sec gap can become 19, and at that point 1 less pit stop does it.

            1. Jimmy Cliff
              29th May 2023, 8:38

              Well Alonso gained about 2 seconds went he went straight coming out of the tunnel on his new mediums.
              If he had jumped Max at the pitstop that for sure would have been investigated.
              With 15 laps to go Alonso had already maxed out track limits.

          2. @spafrancorchamps @esploratore1
            Even if he’d gone for intermediates already the first time pitting, I reckon Max would’ve still most likely rejoined ahead, pitting from the following lap.
            Yes, he would’ve gained during that crucial lap on inters versus slicks, but not necessarily enough to get below the 19.5-sec reference.

    2. The issue is not per se that they took the medium when it looked viable to do so.
      The issue is that from the outset they had a strategy to go longer than Max, Alonso’s tyres were in better shape, and they decided to pit before Max – going against their predefined strategy – in changing circumstances.

      It doesn’t make sense. They should’ve waited it out until the situation became more clear.

      1. That was my feeling too, there was no reason to stop on that lap and it was a coin toss on the weather so they could take one more lap or two to decide. They didn’t lose second but they absolutely blew a chance to win at Monaco. I’m sure they’ll be happy with second though so Alonso is just doing his bit to support the team.

      2. Indeed, they should’ve waited, but if you think about it, let’s say verstappen did everything like he did and alonso waited 1 more lap, hence pitted the same lap as verstappen, there’s no chance to win either that way, is there? He was 9 sec behind, they were driving at similar pace, if they both change tyres from slick to inters the same lap there’s no way to gain that much and pass him, the only chance was pitting for inters the lap before verstappen, exactly when alonso pitted for slicks instead.

      3. @mattds

        Agree completely. Their tyres were better than Max’s at the time of the pit stop.. So their choices should have been go longer than Max and put on fresh mediums (if the weather permits)… Or undercut with inters.

        Undercutting with mediums wouldn’t have made any change to that 9 second gap

      4. Jimmy Cliff
        29th May 2023, 8:40

        Actually Mick Krack said after the race that Alonso had to come in because his hards were done and graining a lot as the rain fell.

    3. This is a non-story simply because regardless of what tire Alonso puts on his car, Max still wins comfortably.

      1. That’s not true because he ended up 22 sec behind, remove 1 pit stop that’s probably 2 sec behind, change the new slicks into inters and he might’ve jumped verstappen.

    4. They were very close to a chance of victory.

      At that moment some were on inters, getting those before RedBull might tip them to a win.

      But maybe they would be too early and Max would have won regardless.

      1. Yes, but based on their own comment here, that they gambled initially and decided to go all out, sacrificing a podium in case for a win, they should’ve gone all out, and the only chance were inters, however you also need a crystal ball for that based on what alonso said about the conditions.

    5. Aston Martin performed the greatest ‘Snatching defeat from the jaws of Victory’ I have ever seen…

    6. The strategy didn’t make sense, because it guaranteed them to finish behind Verstappen. They could have followed their original plan, kept going round and round until Verstappen pits and hope for the rain to hit later, a safety car or a red flag. They could have changed to inters and go for the big undercut, which I think could have worked given that Verstappen lost up to 8 seconds to other drivers on inters on his in lap.
      But pitting and staying on dry tyres made it really easy for Red Bull. There was no chance for any undercut so all Red Bull had to do (regardless of how the condition changed) was to pit one lap later.

      1. Exactly, a very conservative play, which I find silly in the circumstances.

    7. I definitely think they could’ve won this race if they’d have gone for inters. Gap at one point -after- Alonso’s second pit stop was 15 seconds or something. Meaning he could’ve been ahead if he only had to pit once. Yes the Aston was slower than the RB on dry + inters, but he had enough pace on the inters to keep Max behind if he’d have got ahead during those pit stops because Monaco.

    8. It would’ve given Alonso a realistic shot, but it’s nice to see Alonso defending the team and rightly IMO. Hindsight is 20/20 and that was a really tough call to make in the heat of the moment and it truly wasn’t clear whether the track was wet enough and whether the rain would continue.

    9. A difficult call for the team but Fernando himself seems to think fresh mediums was the right call. I think if AM had gone for inters at Alonso’s first pit stop it would have been the better call. I think at the very least Fernando would have been 2/3 seconds behind Max and may have even jumped him. And he would have had warmer tyres than Max on his out lap.

      In the end the likelihood is that Max would still have won and it’s a good thing that Fernando has not made a big thing of this for team harmony.

      1. I should also say that I think AM’s approach to the race on Sunday was fairly conservative. I think it’s almost if they decided they must at all costs, consolidate second place rather than really challenging Max for the win. They were more concerned about the challenge from behind.

        1. @phil-f1-21

          I thought their strategy to start on hards was a smart one. There was unpredictable weather on the cards, and there’s always a chance of a red flag or safety car when that happens. They just needed to play a patient game… which they played pretty well up until they made that call for mediums. Everyone, including the commentators thought Alonso was originally pitting for inters.. which would have been perfectly timed for them, considering Max could lose an easy 6 to 8 seconds by staying out an extra lap. A real shame.. that they made such a poor call at that time.

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