Fernando Alonso will line up on the second row at the Belgian Grand Prix – and has urged Alpine to make the most of their position this time.
The two-time former World Champion placed his car second in qualifying in Montreal earlier in the season, but the team’s strategy failed to make use of two Virtual Safety Car periods with a ‘cheap’ pit-stop, leaving him vulnerable to chasing cars behind and at a net time loss.
A later engine issue limited his performance, eventually coming home ninth in the race, and he was disappointed not to have achieved more on the day.
Alonso ranked sixth in qualifying in Belgium, but penalties for Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and his Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon promote him to a second-row starting slot alongside Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.
While Alonso said he was pleased with the outcome of his session, he was wary of the way things had gone for him in Canada in the race and hopes to have learned from that experience.
“Feels obviously great, great start position tomorrow. P2 in Canada, P3 here,” Alonso said to Sky Sports F1 after qualifying.
“In Canada, we made a lot of mistakes there. We didn’t take any of the Safety Car opportunities and then we had battery problems.
“So hopefully tomorrow we have a clean race and we can maximise this starting position.”
The myriad grid penalties made for something of a unique qualifying session, in the sense a full grid order would not be known until seven different penalties had been applied afterwards.
This leaves several fast cars out of position at the start, with Verstappen having been the dominant force throughout the session and harbouring hopes of even taking victory despite starting P15 on the grid.
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) August 27, 2022
As a result, Alonso was pragmatic about his chances of converting his grid position into a podium finish.
“I think realistically we should aim for top five, top six,” he said. “We start third, but Mercedes are normally very strong on race pace.
“So I think they could be eventually faster and Max even, starting at the back, we know he’s super-fast and he will come eventually in the race.
“So I think top five, top six, I think we should be happy tomorrow.”