Fernando Alonso vented over the radio waves his frustration with Aston Martin’s decision to pit him early in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix but dismissed the perception that he was angry with his team.
From tenth on the grid, Alonso enjoyed a strong first lap, the Spaniard taking advantage of the commotion and jockeying for positions that took place at the start, and also of his soft tyres, to clock in sixth.
From there, Alonso held his own until lap 11 when he was called in to swap his softs for hards.
A battle with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, during which Alonso complained of his AMR23’s lack of straight-line speed.
As he grew increasingly frustrated with his inability to overtake Ocon, he said: “You’ve thrown me to the lions by stopping that early mate. Unbelievable”.
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Aston eventually pitted Alonso again on lap 25 for another set of hards, which pulled him out of traffic, and which eventually allowed him to undercut Ocon and to finish P8.
After the race, the F1 veteran denied that his radio messages reflected anger, insisting that being broadcasted in isolation they lacked context.
“Well, not angry,” he said. “I think it’s the same classic theme, the classic FOM radio, completely out of context.
“I’m not sure exactly what other drivers say when they are behind a car that is slower and on the straight, they are pulling away even when you open the DRS.
“Maybe they say, ‘I’m okay, I’m happy to stay here and to stay behind’.
“But I prefer to be motivated, to overtake them. On track, as I said, I was slower even with the DRS open.
“So I called for a different strategy, we stopped, we beat them. So that’s the way we do it. We beat everyone on track, even if the radio is the highlight.”
Alonso suggested that his early stop had perhaps been a mistake. But in any case, he reckoned that his final position in the running order was where he should have been, even if he had been on an alternate strategy. .
“I think we were fast today, faster than what we thought, in terms of pace,” he said.
“I was behind the Ferraris, in front of Hamilton with not too much pressure. I think lap 12 we stopped. And I think it was to cover Tsunoda, which it was a bit of a surprise there.
“After that stop, obviously, the race is very long from that moment onwards.
“Maybe that was a mistake. But easy to say now. I think arguably the final result would be P8, after the top teams. So it didn’t change much in our race.
“I was upset because the first stop I think it was too early. I didn’t argue. I knew that we stopped too early. And it’s not a problem. Sometimes we benefit.”
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