Fernando Alonso said his most important overtaking move in the Brazilian Grand Prix wasn’t his last-lap pass for third place on Sergio Perez.Lewis Hamilton immediately after the restart was more significant as without it he wouldn’t have been quick enough early in the race to out-run Perez in the Red Bull.
Alonso qualified ahead of Hamilton but fell behind the Mercedes driver at the original start. Hamilton maintained his advantage when the race restarted, but Alonso attacked and successfully passed the Mercedes driver heading towards Descida do Lago.
Had it not been for that move, Alonso said he could have lost a significant amount of time behind Hamilton, who slipped backwards in the opening stages. While his last-lap re-pass on Perez made for a thrilling climax to the race, Alonso said his earlier move was more important.
“Obviously the last lap overtake was quite a lot of commitment,” said Alonso. “We were both just all-or-nothing in a few corners.
“But I think, to be honest, the most important overtake of the race was on Hamilton into turn four in lap one. That changed my race.
“If I start P4 and I have to fight with Hamilton on the first stint, even if I can eventually get in front by lap 10 or whatever, my tyres will never be in a condition to stand the first stint and then have a tyre advantage to Checo in the second stint and third stint. So for me, that is one crucial moment of my race and it’s lap one into turn four with Hamilton.”
Alonso saved a new set of soft tyres for the race’s final stint, which he hoped would give him enough of an advantage to keep Perez behind. But the Red Bull came at him in the final five laps and overtook him on the penultimate tour, only for Alonso to reverse the move.
“It was a very intense race and there was no time to relax,” said Alonso. “Very strategic race as well: Saving the tyres, saving the battery always in case you needed on a DRS opportunity for Checo.
“Honestly, I thought that I had things under control in the last stint until maybe five laps to the end when I started pushing it even more. I had more juice in the tyres and I thought everything was fine.
“And then Checo was playing the same game, he had a good tyre at the end of the race and he overtook me two laps to the end and I thought, ‘okay, this is gone’. And then I had one more chance and it was enough.”
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2023 Brazilian Grand Prix
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