Alonso’s F1 Victory Possibility: A Monaco Miracle?
In the electrifying world of F1 racing, Fernando Alonso’s post-Miami remarks spark intrigue. Could the Aston Martin driver be hinting at a stunning upset at the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix? Given Red Bull’s dominance and the unique challenges of Monaco’s streets, we delve into the tantalising potential of Alonso’s first victory in over a decade.
Interpreting Alonso’s potential for a victorious 2023 F1 race? Aston Martin’s chances at Monaco evaluated. “Things will greatly vary in Monaco,” asserts Alonso.
Post the Miami Grand Prix F1 race, Fernando Alonso’s remarks to Max Verstappen might be misconstrued as a claim of winning the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix for Aston Martin.
This assumption emerges from the backdrop of their conversation concerning Verstappen’s rapid overtaking of Alonso in Miami, despite Verstappen starting from the ninth position on the grid.
In contradiction to Alonso’s estimation of this happening around the 25th lap, it transpired mid-way through the 15th lap.
Verstappen concurred that replicating such a feat in Monaco would be a steeper challenge, thereby prompting the intriguing possibility of Alonso warding off the Red Bulls in Monaco’s streets and putting an end to his ten-year-long F1 victory famine.
The possibility isn’t far-fetched. Even though it’s reasonable to anticipate Red Bull possessing the fastest car in the Monaco race, securing a good starting position might prove tricky. If the Red Bull RB19 has any shortcoming, it would arguably lie in its qualifying capabilities.
It may seem illogical to doubt a team that has secured the pole position in four out of five Grand Prix events in 2023, yet Red Bull has consistently faced considerable pressure during qualifying throughout the season.
Their qualifying edge has been a mere 0.154s, 0.155s, 0.236s, and 0.361s, while their loss to Charles Leclerc in Baku’s primary qualifying round was by 0.188s. However, Red Bull’s performance has been unparalleled during the actual races.
The main issue Red Bull has grappled with during qualifying is the warming up of the front tyres. This likely stems from the intensive anti-dive settings in the front suspension, which simultaneously diminishes the brake feel and increases the risk of locking up. In a race as brisk and challenging as Monaco, this could pose a significant problem.
Furthermore, Monaco’s circuit layout is likely to minimize one of Red Bull’s significant strengths: its aerodynamic efficiency. Whether with DRS activated or not, Red Bull has proven formidable on straight stretches, which Monaco lacks. This factor could make qualifying even more difficult.
Consequently, it’s not implausible to picture a scenario where Alonso, who clinched the Monaco Grand Prix from pole position for Renault in 2006 and for McLaren in 2007, starts in the lead. If history is anything to go by, a strong start could potentially mean staying ahead.
Alonso and Aston Martin’s prospects of securing a win this year are already promising, given that Alonso has been among the top competitors in four out of five races this year, consistently well-positioned to seize opportunities should Red Bull stumble. However, Monaco presents a thrilling prospect of achieving victory based on merit.
The team recognizes that the Monaco Grand Prix increases the likelihood of a win, even though it maintains a realistic perspective about the chances.
“I would love to say that we can win this season,” stated Dan Fallows, the technical director.
“Certainly, there are some circuits where the usual course of events may not apply. Sometimes, cars with specific attributes may perform better, like in Monaco, and other similar tracks. I would love to assert that.
“But to be honest, we are quite pragmatic about our current position. Our primary focus is to maximize the performance of our car in the least possible time. Then we will see what rewards this effort brings.”
The path to Alonso’s victory seems simple in theory but is quite complex in practice. It would necessitate a strong qualifying performance from Alonso, something quite possible given his impressive prowess maneuvering his car around the streets of Monaco.
However, he must avoid becoming overly confident, as occurred in 2010 when his aggressive approach led to a crash during the third practice session at Massenet, resulting in a Ferrari that had to be reconstructed around a spare chassis. It’s entirely feasible that he could start from pole position – but only if he can outperform not just the Red Bulls, but also the rest of the field, including the hometown favorite Charles Leclerc, on Saturday.
Subsequently, the strategic approach will be crucial in maintaining the lead against whoever trails behind. If it’s a Red Bull, it certainly won’t be an easy task. As a driver of Alonso’s caliber, maintaining the lead on the track is entirely achievable.
Daniel Ricciardo exemplified this convincingly in 2018 when he managed to stay in the lead despite a hybrid failure, guiding a string of cars to the finish line. However, if two Red Bulls trail him, it would necessitate a shrewd strategy to prevent being outmaneuvered.
From this viewpoint, having Lance Stroll in proximity could be advantageous for Aston Martin on a track where the Canadian has only managed one points finish in five attempts – a 2021 eighth-place finish. Given he has access to the same equipment, Stroll cannot be entirely discounted, despite being consistently outperformed by Alonso.
Another aspect to consider is Red Bull’s awareness of its potential weaknesses and its likely disproportionate focus on qualifying, similar to all other teams. There can be adjustments made to the set-up to address its front tyre warm-up issues, with the hope of securing the pole position.
Moreover, Red Bull can afford to trade off some of its straight-line speed strength for corner performance by bringing a high-downforce, drag-heavy wing.
As Aston Martin’s performance director, Tom McCullough, notes, this could further complicate the situation.
“Red Bull will arrive with the maximum-downforce rear wing,” McCullough stated. “And we’ll have the opportunity to see how their car performs in conditions where efficiency isn’t as vital.”
“Monaco is largely dominated by low-speed car performance. Currently, we seem to be performing better relative to some due to the size of the wing we’re using.
When everyone switches to the maximum wing, the competition might level out a bit,” McCullough added.
Therefore, it’s not a given that Red Bull won’t lead after the qualifying rounds. However, in a season dominated by Red Bull, there’s an enticing prospect of a more challenging Sunday for the team.
This opens up not just the potential for an Aston Martin win but also the seemingly impossible scenario of Verstappen overtaking on the track for the lead in Monaco.
The last time such an event occurred was in 1996 when Damon Hill passed Jean Alesi’s Benetton while climbing the hill out of Ste Devote. However, that instance was influenced by Hill having just switched to slicks, while Alesi, still on wet tires, briefly took the lead.
As Alonso remarked about the prospects of challenging Red Bull this year, “maybe Monaco, maybe Barcelona, we have a possibility”.
One can be certain that if there’s a hint of a victory opportunity, both Alonso and Aston Martin will seize it with full vigor.
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