The French Grand Prix showed Fernando Alonso very much returning to his groove in Formula One. The two-time F1 Driver’s Champion started in ninth and finished in eighth. However, in the same way that saying ‘Pole-sitter Max Verstappen won the French GP’ does not begin to tell the story of the Dutchman’s race – the same can be said for Alonso.
As the French Grand Prix arrived, all the talk was on Esteban Ocon and his contract extension – not to mention the fact that this was Ocon’s home race. However, due to a challenging qualifying, Ocon, having started in 11th place, could never challenge in the points and eventually crossed the finish line in fourteenth. Ocon told the media after the race: “We’ll learn from this weekend and move forward. The next race is next week, and we aim to come back strongly.”
Nevertheless, the French Grand Prix was still a successful race for one side of the garage at the Alpine F1 Team as a result of Fernando Alonso claiming four points from his eighth place finish at Circuit Paul Ricard. “We started ninth and finished eighth and all in all we executed the race how we wanted, so I am happy with the result today.” Alonso told the media after Sunday’s race.
The real story of the duel on the headache inducing multicoloured circuit was tyre graining as very few teams anticipated such tyre degradation to come from the 53-lap race.
Fernando Alonso’s launch off the starting grid and consequent pace saw him momentarily up to seventh during the first lap. Such a move echoed the starting maneuvers seen in the past from the talented Spaniard and former two-time F1 Drivers’ World Champion. However, eighth would be where he would settle into the pack – so a net gain of one position early on in the race.
Fernando Alonso was one of the early drivers to recognise the wear on tyres and as such pitted on lap 18 for the Hard compound.
Speaking to the team’s official website alpinecars.com, Fernando Alonso had this to say:
“We weren’t expecting the tyres to degrade like they did and our medium tyres didn’t last very long at the beginning of the race.” What followed was a strong pace and getting back to where he felt his pace warranted – a point scoring position.
As the 53-lap race drew to a close, Fernando Alonso was in an intense battle which may have produced an even better finishing position.
“I was a little bit worried but when we switched to the hards we showed strong pace and we carried this through to the end and it looked like we might be able to overtake Gasly and Ricciardo ahead in the last few laps.” Alonso continued on alpinecars.com
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly were kept honest right up to the end but try as he might the Spaniard could not turn his pressure into a passing move. Therefore, sixth position for the Daniel Ricciardo aka The Honey Badger and seventh for the talented Pierre Gasly at his home race - was how it would remain.
Another impressive race from the returning former F1 Champion and clearly confidence is high as the triple header continues next week:
We’ve had similar performances at a few circuits now on both Saturday and Sunday, so I think we can be a bit more relaxed that this is our real position and not the one we showed in Monaco.”
Fernando Alonso is very much a racer looking at the drivers in front of him as opposed to behind and it is so great to have the Spaniard back in Formula One.