Fernando Alonso is known for his clever pre-race tactics and observations that more often than not result in significant gains for him and his team.
The most recent example of this was at last year’s Russian GP, when Alonso admitted he deliberately went wide at turn two to make full use of the escape roads, and carry more speed throughout the following sequence without being awarded with a penalty.
The Spaniard has once again used his intelligent and ever-alert race craft to make up ground at the start pf the Miami GP, as he stormed his way from 11th to 7th – even bumping old rival Lewis Hamilton out of his way. He explained this was all down to an observation on the drivers’ parade lap on a truck before the race.
"I had a good start, but then I chose to go on the outside on Turn 1. I saw [it] on the drivers' parade. It was the slowest drivers' parade ever today.
"And thanks to that, we stopped on the outside of Turn 1, so I looked on the outside of Turn 1 for like 20 seconds, and I felt that it was very grippy, and there were no marbles, no stones, no nothing, and it was very clean,” he explained.
"So I said I will go on the outside on Turn 1. They were all braking very carefully on the inside, and I made a couple of places there."
Most drivers avoided going outside the racing line, as it was a theme during the weekend that the grip off-line was sub-optimal, but Alonso’s careful, yet quick, observation ensured he knew that at least in the first turn, it wasn’t the case.
He wasn’t the only one to make progress that way, as up front, the reigning world champion Max Verstappen used the same line to get past Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and put himself in prime position to attack Charles Leclerc later on.
Although Verstappen used the same line as the Spaniard, he admitted that he went because of the “opportunity” that presented itself at that moment, and that “luckily” it worked for him:
"I didn't know what to expect in the actual start, but we had a good launch.
"And I saw the opportunity to go around the outside in Turn 1, so I tried. And luckily, it worked,” said the Dutchman.
Unfortunately for Alonso, a collision with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and an off-track excursion meant he received two post-race penalties, five seconds each, dropping him from his eighth place to out of the points in 11th, where he started.
Today, Alpine’s CEO Laurent Rossi has released statement lamenting how his team had no say over the penalty the Spaniard received for going off-track after the late safety car restart.
This one is certainly difficult to accept since Fernando handed back the time during the lap and we were not able to present the evidence to clarify the particular situation before the penalty was issued.— BWT Alpine F1 Team (@AlpineF1Team) May 11, 2022