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Alonso Defends Bold Strategy Despite Tire Limit

Fernando Alonso Secures Fastest Lap, Finishes 7th in Shanghai

22/04/2024

Despite a challenging tire situation, Fernando Alonso stands by his team’s decision for a bold race strategy in Shanghai.

Starting 3rd on the grid in Shanghai, Fernando Alonso finished the race in 7th place (but with the fastest lap).

The strategy of Aston Martin F1 did raise questions: Fernando Alonso switched to soft tires mid-race, after the safety car due to Valtteri Bottas’s retirement. He then stopped, in the latter part of the race, to switch from softs to mediums.

Why opt for this three-stop strategy, which didn’t seem very rewarding?

The reason, however, was simple: Alonso had no more hard tires left. He had used up his sets earlier in the weekend.

Available to him during the race were just one new set of hards and two sets of mediums.

“We had no hards left,” confirms Fernando Alonso.

“We had one set of softs and one of mediums. And there were 35 laps left. So, according to our calculations, it was not possible to finish the race on these tires.”

“There were a lot of laps behind the safety car, to remove the Sauber, and once the safety car came in, there were even more laps behind it, due to the crash (Ricciardo-Stroll).”

Fernando Alonso enjoyed his final stint, climbing from 12th to 7th place and recording the fastest lap… but it was not enough to overcome the disappointment.

“I felt I was fast but my position didn’t seem good when I was in 10th. It was tough, but it was the only strategy to go for us.”

“The Safety Cars probably didn’t help our strategy and allowed others to save their tires a bit and hold out until the end.”

“We had to make another stop, it wasn’t ideal. But in the end, I almost crashed… but we set the fastest lap and finished 7th, so overall, I think it was a good weekend.”

“Let’s see, maybe next time, without a Sprint race, we will save the tires for Sunday; and maybe we won’t even have a strange penalty!”

Alonso was close to leading the race in the first lap when he nearly passed Max Verstappen on the outside…

“It was the same during the sprint,” he puts it into perspective.

“I felt fast but the positions weren’t good when I was in 10th. It was tough and it was our only strategy.”

“I was 2nd when Lando went off, and I thought, ‘OK, I can try to lead the race for at least one lap.’ On Sunday, I passed Checo and I thought, ‘OK, I’ll try again,’ but I neither had the choice nor the chance to hope to take the lead. Another day, perhaps…”

“The wind direction changed, so that in turns 1 and 2, there was a headwind. I knew then if I was alongside someone in turns 1 and 2, I had the chance to attack. I was very aggressive.”

“Then, you end up returning to your natural position, ninth and tenth for us. We always repeat the same things, but we find every Sunday that we are the fifth fastest team.”

“But for one reason or another, our rivals don’t put everything together in their laps on Saturday, we qualify ahead of them and there is this fight every Sunday. Let’s see if we can improve the car.”

“But it was good to have the fastest lap, to feel fast in the car. We have a good DRS this year, so it was very easy to overtake. I was at the max in my last stint.”

A degradation too high to attempt a two-stop strategy

On paper, it would have been possible for Aston Martin F1 to attempt a two-stop strategy (mediums-hards-mediums).

Why not take the chance?

Mike Krack, the boss of Aston Martin F1, explains: the degradation was too high to make this strategy work in Shanghai.

“We thought it was probably better to adopt this strategy – because we had a set of softs remaining. It was a bit risky. But with the long period of the safety car, we couldn’t use the softs to their full potential.”

“So it was about limiting the damage. In the end, if you look at the pace of the car, which wasn’t good enough in the race, the optimal result without the safety car might have been maybe 6th. We finished 7th with the fastest lap. We limited the damage.”

Alonso Defends Bold Strategy Despite Tire Limit

Alonso Defends Bold Strategy Despite Tire Limit. Alonso Defends Bold Strategy Despite Tire Limit

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