Fernando Alonso secured his third consecutive third place finish in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, but his afternoon was not without drama, with a red flag saving him from falling out of the points altogether after contact with Carlos Sainz Jr.
The Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula 1 Team driver was in podium contention for much of the afternoon in Albert Park and was shadowing Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s Lewis Hamilton in the second half of the race. Without a mistake coming from the seven-time World Champion, however, Alonso was forced to settle in behind him.
“It was a rollercoaster of emotions today with the red flags and incidents,” said Alonso. “It was probably my craziest race here in Melbourne but it’s great to come away with another podium.
“There were many things going on all afternoon and we had an interesting battle with Lewis [Hamilton] for second. The pace of the car was good and we kept up the pressure on Lewis, but he did a good job and didn’t really make any mistakes.”
However, a restart after a late red flag for an accident for Kevin Magnussen saw Alonso be spun out by his fellow Spaniard Sainz, and had the positions been retained after that incident, the two-time World Champion would have ended the day in eleventh.
However, the red flags flew before the first sector had been completed, meaning everyone returned to their original positions for the restart, promoting Alonso back up to third. And looking back at the incident with Sainz, Alonso feels it was harsh from the stewards to hand him a five-second time penalty that saw the Scuderia Ferrari driver drop out of the points.
“On the contact with Carlos [Sainz] after the restart I’m sure he didn’t mean to do it so I think the penalty for him was quite harsh in the end,” Alonso said.
“We have to be pleased with this start to the season and three podiums in as many races.”
“This sport is a rollercoaster of emotions sometimes!” – Lance Stroll
Team-mate Lance Stroll was also pleased with his days work in Australia, although he was also lucky that the red flags flew after the restart after he ran through the gravel trap at turn three.
The Canadian dropped to twelfth as a result of his trip through the gravel, but the red flag saved his blushes and he was returned to fourth place, ending a good day for Aston Martin.
Stroll, who also had contact with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at turn three on the opening lap that eliminated the Monegasque driver, admitted the whole race was a ‘rollercoaster of emotions’, but to come away with a fourth place finish on a day of chaos was extremely pleasing.
“I think we should be pleased with the result we’ve come away with today: third and fourth is great for the team,” said Stroll. “It was a heavily disrupted race with red flags and a few big accidents, and neither Fernando nor I managed to stay clear of the drama.
“I had a little bit of contact on the first lap, but we were running well until the first red flag was thrown. As we’ve seen across the weekend, it takes a while for the tyres to get up to temperature here and so on the second restart I locked up at turn three and ended up in the gravel.
“Thankfully, the red flag had been waved before that point and I was able to retake my position for the final restart. This sport is a rollercoaster of emotions sometimes!
“Overall, we’ve come away from a chaotic race with a solid haul of points for the team and to be second in the Constructors’ Championship after three races is very positive”