Drivers in the midfield “[prefer] to crash into other cars rather than lifting off“, says two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso.
Alonso was part of a three-car incident between himself, Renault Sport Formula One Team‘s Nico Hülkenberg and Williams Martini Racing driver Sergey Sirotkin. Coming out of the second corner the cars were three abreast heading towards turn three, with Hülkenberg close to the wall. Rather than lifting out of the throttle he turned towards – and into – Sirotkin, who was then pushed into Alonso. This caused race-ending damage to the Russian’s car, whilst Alonso suffered two punctures and “heavy” damage to his car. Hülkenberg later crashed out.
Speaking after the race Alonso criticised other midfield drivers for their all-or-nothing style, though admitted that it’s his job to qualify better to avoid the midfield entirely.
“Today’s race was very complicated – right from the very first lap.
“The first lap in the midfield is the same old story; people preferring to crash into other cars rather than lifting off. But it’s also up to us to qualify further towards the front, where it’s usually a little bit cleaner.
“On that opening lap, my car was heavily damaged – I had two punctures, with one flat tyre damaging the floor. I also had a damaged front and rear wing.”
Despite battling a damaged car and a first-lap incident that would have seen many other drivers retire, Alonso brought home the car for his third consecutive seventh place of the season and “one of the best races in years” for the team.
“I really thought that would be the end of my race, but after the team fitted a new front wing and fresh tyres, I went back out, fought all race long, and actually found the car to be quite competitive.
“We were able to overtake a Sauber and a Renault thanks to the Safety Car, which enabled us to recover a couple of positions. It was one of the best races in years for us, I reckon.”