Formula 1

Misleading problem lured Aston into needless Alonso orders

by Matt Beer, Edd Straw
3 min read

Fernando Alonso’s battle to stay ahead of Lewis Hamilton for second in the Canadian Grand Prix was made harder by the Aston Martin Formula 1 team thinking it had a fuel system problem that turned out to be misleading.

Alonso had lost second place to Hamilton’s Mercedes off the line in Montreal, but repassed it mid-race. Hamilton then began to catch him again in the closing stages, with a radio message broadcast in which Alonso was urged to “lift and coast” – to which he replied that he ‘wanted to win the race’.

Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Lewis Hamilton Mercedes F1 Canadian GP

After successfully staying clear of Hamilton, Alonso said he had not been told what the problem he needed to manage was.

Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack then revealed that the team had been misled by its data and Alonso could’ve gone faster.

“We thought we had a problem on the fuel system, but we were not sure,” he explained.

“As a precaution we sent the message to save some fuel and do some lift and coast.

“How much it cost us? It’s difficult to judge. A few tenths, one or two per lap maybe.”

When asked how much fuel was left at the end of the race, Krack then replied “enough”.

Fernando Alonso Aston Martin F1 Canadian GP

“It was a precautionary thing but you can chose between not finishing and arriving with a bit more,” he added. “So we wanted to be safe.

“We had a problem on the fuel system. We thought we had a problem on the fuel system which did not materialise in the end.”

Asked by The Race why Aston Martin believed it had the problem, Krack replied: “Because the data was saying that maybe we had a problem”.

Alonso’s issue was initially widely thought to be brake-related. High brake wear is a traditional problem in Montreal given the circuit layout, and Mercedes also interpreted Aston Martin’s radio messages to mean Alonso had brake issues – telling Hamilton to push him harder with that in mind.

Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Lewis Hamilton Mercedes F1 Canadian GP

Krack joked that the Aston Martin pitwall had been surprised to hear Mercedes misdiagnosing Alonso’s problem.

“No, nothing. I was surprised to see the comments,” Krack replied when asked if the brakes had been a problem too.

“Lewis was told we had a braking problem and we looked at each other and said ‘they know more about our car than we do, maybe we should speak to the Mercedes engineers’.

“No, we had no problems on the brakes.”

Fernando Alonso Aston Martin F1 Canadian GP

Alonso’s second place was his sixth podium from the eight rounds so far and brings him to within nine points of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez for second in the F1 drivers’ standings.

Asked after the race if he felt he could beat Perez to that position, Alonso simply replied: “yes”.

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