Formula 1

Fernando Alonso: “We made a Small Step Forward”

4 Mins read

It was another tough race for the Scuderia Ferrari team at the German Grand Prix as Fernando Alonso finished fifth but Kimi Raikkonen was outside the points in eleventh at Hockenheim. Both drivers had numerous on-track battles throughout the race, but while Alonso was satisfied with his day, Raikkonen was disappointed.

Alonso took fifth and enjoyed battles with both Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo during the race, and felt the team has made a small step forward as he was able to keep in touch with the Mercedes-powered Williams of Valtteri Bottas for long periods of the race.

“We did what we could today and even if as always, we were aiming for a podium finish, the cars ahead of us were just too quick,” said Alonso. “It was a good race, even if it was very complex, as we decided to change from a two to a three-stop strategy. It was not easy fighting while also keeping an eye on consumption and in the end, with the help of newer tyres, getting ahead of Ricciardo meant we finished in the highest position that we were capable of.

“Here in Hockenheim, we made a small step forward and even if that didn’t translate into lap time, it encourages us to keep trying to improve. The aim is still to score points to help the team in the Constructors’ Championship. So now our thoughts turn to Budapest. We will only find out how things will go once we are there, because every circuit is a story in itself.”

Talking to Sky Sports F1 after the race, Alonso heaped praise onto Ricciardo, after the Australian gave him a close, yet fair, battle for fifth that the Spaniard won by less than a tenth of a second.

“Daniel is a surprise from Australia,” said Alonso to Sky Sports F1. “I think he’s doing unbelievable; I think he’s seven-three [in qualifying] in the first ten races with Sebastian [Vettel], so it’s something we probably didn’t suspect.

“He’s driving fantastically and today he was battling very smart – always taking the slipstream of me after I pass him and braking very late, attacking very late and never missing a corner. He was very, very smart, very respectful with the rules and it was a great fight.”

Team-mate Raikkonen missed out on the points in eleventh, after twice being hit by a rival while they were overtaking the Finn. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was the first to clip the Ferrari driver at the hairpin and damaged his front wing, while a little later Raikkonen was caught between Vettel and Alonso that damaged the wing a little more. He was disappointed as he felt his pace was good enough for points had it not been for the damage and the lack of downforce.

“It’s a real shame the way my race went, because this weekend, I felt more comfortable and today, on fresh tyres, I was going well,” said Raikkonen. “Unfortunately, twice I found myself squeezed between two cars and on both occasions my front wing got damaged and that compromised my race.

“Tyre performance dropped more than expected and I had graining on the front left and was losing aerodynamic downforce. On the positive side, I was able to drive the way I like today. I am sure that, but for these problems, things would have worked out differently and I would have been able to finish in the points.”

Technical Director Pat Fry insisted the team pushed to the limit with the goal to score as many points as possible, but was disappointed to miss out with Raikkonen, but praised Alonso for taking fifth.

“It was a very tight race and with both cars, we pushed to the limit trying to make up places,” said Fry. “Because of the accident at the start, we made up three places and both Fernando and Kimi drove very aggressively with a lot of spectacular overtaking moves.   Behind the scenes, managing all the parameters of the two cars gave us a lot to do, from monitoring traffic, to the choices relating to the pit stops and fuel consumption.

“Unfortunately, with Kimi it was all more complicated, partly affected by a couple of collisions that damaged his front wing and affected tyre behaviour. In his second stint, we lost a few seconds because of graining, seconds, which unfortunately, cost us a points finish.

“Fernando managed his race very well and thanks to his final move on Ricciardo, he brought home points that are important for the Constructors’ Championship. In a few days, we will be back on track in Hungary, a circuit where aerodynamic downforce plays a significant role and where we will try and get the most out of our package.”

Team Principal Marco Mattiacci praised the efforts of the entire team in what was a very tough race for the Maranello team. He is adamant that they will continue to develop the car to eliminate the weak points, but is happy that improvements are being added to the car and are proving to work.

“This was a very hard fought race for both the drivers and the team, which confirms the great effort put in by everyone on a weekend that never had a moment’s breathing space and in which we did our utmost,” said Mattiacci. “Fernando produced another fantastic performance, while we saw encouraging signs from Kimi, which unfortunately did not translate into concrete results.

“We know the weak points of our car and at every race we are looking for improvements that can also be useful for the new project which is beginning to take shape. Now attention turns to the next round in Hungary. It will be another demanding race, but at the same time another opportunity to improve.”

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Long time motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1 and the occassional other series. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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