Alonso reduced pace for 45 laps due to problem which “did not materialise”

2023 Canadian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso spent more than half of the Canadian Grand Prix at a reduced pace because the team suspected a fault was developing on his car.

However team principal Mike Krack confirmed after the race the problem they were managing “did not materialise in the end.”

“The data was saying that maybe we have a problem on the fuel system,” Krack explained.

“But we were not sure. So as a precaution we said the best thing is to save some fuel and to do lift-and-coast.”

Krack said it was “difficult to judge” how much time the fault cost Alonso per lap. “A few tenths, probably. One or two, maybe.”

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Alonso’s radio messages indicate he was told to increase lift-and-coast from lap 25, shortly after he passed Lewis Hamilton for second place. “It was a precautionary thing,” said Krack. “But you can choose between not finishing or arriving with a bit more. So we wanted to be safe.”

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2023
Alonso held on to take his sixth podium finish this year
Mercedes appeared to misunderstand the nature of Alonso’s problem, said Krack. “I think Lewis was told we had a brake problem and we looked at each other and said ‘oh, they know more about our car than we do, maybe we should speak to Mercedes’ engineers’.”

However he confirmed “we had no problem with brakes” on Alonso’s car.

The fault may have cost Alonso several seconds over the race distance. He finished 9.5 seconds behind race winner Max Verstappen.

Krack said it’s likely that the team was closer to Red Bull on pure performance last weekend, following the upgrades they added to their AMR23.

“I don’t know how much Max was pushing, I think we were closer than lately, but maybe if we get closer, then he pushes more. So it’s very hypothetical.

“But I think we can safely say that we did not drop back in the pecking order which for us is quite important after Barcelona.”

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Alonso’s lift-and-coast discussion

After passing Hamilton on lap 22, Alonso received his first instruction to increase his lifting-and-coasting soon afterwards:

Lap: 25/70 ALO: 1’16.922
Cronin Okay Fernando we’ll do some more lift-and-coast, more lift-and-coast.
Lap: 26/70 ALO: 1’16.979
Cronin So that’s good on lift-and-coast, keep doing it. Hamilton is 1.6, Verstappen 3.6.
Lap: 27/70 ALO: 1’16.819
Cronin Fernando turn the HPP button off, that’s the old ACS one. HPP button off, you turned it on one lap ago.
Alonso Okay I think it’s done now.
Lap: 28/70 ALO: 1’17.010
Cronin Yeah, that’s good, good.
Lap: 30/70 ALO: 1’17.295
Cronin Okay Fernando multifunction B grey, multifunction B grey, elec position four, grey elec position four.
Lap: 31/70 ALO: 1’17.113
Cronin Fernando we do need to keep doing the lift-and-coast please, keep doing the lift-and-coast.
Lap: 32/70 ALO: 1’17.667
Alonso I have a little bit less deployment.
Cronin Yeah. Copy Fernando, that is as expected, as expected.

Following his final pit stop on lap 41 Alonso was reminded to keep his pace under control. Hamilton soon began to close on him.

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Lap: 44/70 ALO: 1’16.368
Alonso Tell me Hamilton’s pace.
Cronin The last… same lap time as us, same lap time. You’re doing good lift-and-coast, but we need to keep doing it. Hamilton still 5.2 behind Verstappen 4.2 ahead.
Lap: 45/70 ALO: 1’16.052
Cronin Last lap Hamilton three-tenths quicker.
Lap: 46/70 ALO: 1’15.891
Cronin So that same lap time as both Verstappen and Hamilton.
Alonso Okay. Tell me when lift-and-coast is okay, to stop doing it.
Lap: 47/70 ALO: 1’17.367
Cronin Yeah, we will do. But please keep doing it now. Please keep doing it.
Alonso Yeah, I want to win the race mate.
Cronin Yeah, so do I. But we need to keep doing lift-and-coast.
Alonso Yeah. I lost a second in turn nine, sorry. I will drive faster now
Cronin Okay mate listen it was a strong tailwind there, you had a strong gust on that lap.
Lap: 49/70 ALO: 1’15.895
Cronin So Fernando keep doing the lift-and-coast please, keep doing it, bit more in 13.

By lap 58 Hamilton was within half a second of being able to use DRS to attack Alonso, but the team continued to urge him to manage his pace:

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Lap: 56/70 ALO: 1’16.164
Cronin So I know this lift-and-coast is painful, but you’re doing a really good job and we’ve still got to do it, keep doing it.
Lap: 57/70 ALO: 1’16.162
Cronin Okay so Hamilton 1.6 behind. 13 laps, 13.
Lap: 62/70 ALO: 1’15.779
Cronin Hamilton 1.9 behind.
Alonso Copy. Leave it to me.
Lap: 68/70 ALO: 1’16.607
Cronin Two more laps. Two more laps. You can go to strat six for a little pace.
Lap: 69/70 ALO: 1’15.810
Cronin Strat five, strat five, one more lap, Hamilton 3.8.

Even on the final lap of the race Aston Martin were continuing to ask Alonso to keep his lap times under control. However by now Hamilton’s pace on his softer tyres had begun to drop off, leaving Alonso some breathing space:

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Lap: 70/70 ALO: 1’16.346
Cronin We’ll have a bit more lift-and-coast on this one, bit more.
Cronin Well done, mate. Well done. We were nursing a little problem there, but you did a great job. I think without that little problem Verstappen was do-able.
Alonso I knew. I knew. Didn’t want to say anything.

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2023 Canadian Grand Prix

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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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8 comments on “Alonso reduced pace for 45 laps due to problem which “did not materialise””

  1. I wonder how much more pace really Alonso had… Max, same as Alonso, had a moment on track. Maybe he wasn’t just coasting to the finish line.

    1. Verstappen was coasting so hard, he almost lost his focus. He had significant advantage, when you realize he did his personal fastest lap with a bird in his brake duct on a lap with heavy lift and coasting into T1, T6, and it was only 0.2s slower than Hamilton who was pushing very hard at his attempt.

      If Verstappen would feel any danger, he’d pull away just as easily as he did after SC, or back in Australia. Remember that?

      1. I’m not sure, alonso had reduced the gap under 4 sec before he made that mistake, usually verstappen gets a bigger margin than that.

    2. LH be like, ” are you saying merc is too slow bro?”

  2. ALO running less than top speed still beat HAM. The Mercedes isn’t close to either RB or AM. Season is over well before the break.

    1. Yeah – doesn’t inspire any confidence in either Merc or Ferrari if they’re unable to get past an AM running on reduced speed.

      I doubt anyone is going to get close to the RBR car for the entire season – one wonders why every other team is so far behind given there is so much limitation on what teams can do/change on their cars these days.

    2. Lift and coast doesn’t cost them much time. A tenth or two. That’s why Hamilton cut a 6+ second lead to 1.3 seconds at point. Then Alonso pulled gap back to 3 seconds when he stopped.

      There were two disappointing things resulting/related to this whole situation:
      1. The non-real issue prevented Alonso from being able to push Max into a brake issue due to the bird stuck in his duct.

      2. The bird in the duct may have been partly responsible for making RBR look less dominant than it was. We know the track wasn’t a strong one for them, which made them look less far ahead.

      Personally, I think Max has also been instructed to not open up huge gaps in order to reduce discontent about their dominance and minimize the chances of some anti-RBR regs change.

  3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    20th June 2023, 12:50

    He did build a one second lead in one lap when Lewis got close to him so I don’t think they are making this up. Which means Verstappen was just sticking close to the other 2 to make it appear like a closer race than it was.

Comments are closed.