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Formula 1

Unapologetic Alonso’s canny Monaco GP tactics explained

by Josh Suttill
3 min read

“Not my problem” was Fernando Alonso’s response when told of the angst he caused by holding up half of the Formula 1 field while trying to preserve his medium compound tyres during the Monaco Grand Prix.

Alonso was running in the seventh place that he started in when Mick Schumacher’s shunt red flagged the race and set up a 33-lap ‘sprint race’ until the chequered flag.

The field was split by those opting for new mediums and those electing for used hard tyres.

Alonso went for mediums but unlike fellow medium runners such as race leader Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton behind him, he decided to deliberately slow his pace to preserve his Pirelli rubber.

“We put the medium tyre on, but our life estimation was shorter than 33 [laps],” Alonso explained after the race.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Monaco Grand Prix Sunday Monte Carlo, Monaco

“So, we didn’t know if we could finish the race, I managed a lot the tyres for 15 laps.”

Alonso’s management of his tyres led to lap times over three – some laps as much as four – seconds slower than Perez’s.

The two-time champion’s likely concern was not so much that his mediums would not last until the end of the race, but that pushing too hard in the early phase of the stint could lead to overheating tyres – something that almost cost Perez at the front.

When his Alpine team informed him that team-mate Esteban Ocon, who was running ninth behind Hamilton and Alonso, had a five-second penalty, Alonso pushed on and quite suddenly upped the pace.

That pace differential is easily noticeable when comparing his pace to Perez’s (laptimes in seconds on the left, lap number across the bottom).

Kcbbt Perez Vs Alonso Monaco Gp Lap Times (1)

Alonso’s peak on lap 50 – a 1m15.882s – was the fastest of all at the time and the third fastest lap of the race, only behind Lando Norris and Yuki Tsunoda, who benefitted from late pitstops.

You can spot when Alonso picks up his pace and when Perez’s speed lowers when he is struggling from overheating and graining of his tyres.

“I felt like I was not really pushing,” Perez said.

“And then all of a sudden, I started to have a lot of understeer into [Turns] 3 and 4, lap after lap, and I could see that Carlos [Sainz] just was next to me.”

That’s exactly what Alonso wanted to – and successfully did – avoid, meaning former team-mate Hamilton never stood a realistic chance of overtaking him.

While he expressed his frustration during the race, Hamilton insisted to the media after the race that he didn’t find “cruising behind him” frustrating as “it just is what it is”.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Monaco Grand Prix Sunday Monte Carlo, Monaco

Alonso shrugged off Hamilton’s in-race complaints as “not my problem” and said it was “extremely easy” to keep the Mercedes driver behind him.

Alonso has also been driving through arm pain that is a legacy of his Q3 crash in Melbourne.

“Bones, ligaments, tendons, everything is a mess at the moment,” he explained after the race.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Monaco Grand Prix Sunday Monte Carlo, Monaco

“But, I need two or three months. There is no surgery, nothing you can do. Just rest.

“And unfortunately, every two weeks I have to drive! I try to rest at home, but it will take a few months.”

Alonso quickly shrugged off suggestions that he could hand over his Alpine to the team’s reserve driver Oscar Piastri while he recovers. “Yeah, but we need the points,” he said.

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