Fernando Alonso blames Carlos Sainz for Sprint clash, ‘didn’t leave me space’

Michelle Foster
Fernando Alonso leads Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez in the Sprint

Fernando Alonso leads Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez in the Sprint

Fernando Alonso blamed Carlos Sainz for their late-Sprint clash with the Aston Martin driver saying his compatriot “didn’t leave me space”.

Alonso and Sainz faced a stewards’ investigation after clashing in the closing laps of the Chinese Grand Prix Sprint where the Aston Martin driver came off second best as his AMR24 suffered a puncture and floor damage.

Fernando Alonso: He didn’t leave me space for that

Additional reporting by Pablo Hidalgo

In what turned out to be a thrilling 19-lap Sprint, Alonso led a train of cars into the final five laps with Sainz, Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc within metres of one another.

Sainz, trying to find a way past, was having a look at almost every corner before Alonso’s defence was undone on lap 16 as Sainz overtook him.

The double World Champion fought back but contact between the two not only opened the door for Perez to pass them both but also resulted in a puncture for Alonso that put him out of the Sprint.

The stewards investigated and blamed Alonso, hitting him with a 10-second penalty and three penalty points.

Alonso though believes the blame belongs to Sainz who didn’t leave him enough space.

“With Carlos we were running side-by-side on Turn 7, then on Turn 8 I tried to run on the outside and he didn’t leave me space for that,” he told DAZN F1 Spain.

“I opened the racing line,” he added.

“Then I tried to do the same as him on Turn 9. I opened the racing line on Turn 8 and he didn’t do that to me on Turn 9.

“I came off the worst as I had to retire, but I only lost two points so it doesn’t hurt that much.

“It was entertaining so good from that side.”

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Fernando Alonso lost grip having pushed ‘over’ his AMR24’s race pace

Running second behind Lewis Hamilton for the first seven laps, Alonso tried to keep Max Verstappen behind him but was a sitting duck when the Red Bull driver got within DRS range.

From there on the Spaniard was third on the track and doing a fantastic job keeping the rest at bay but revealed his tyres started to go off having pushed “over” his car’s race pace.

“I enjoyed the race,” he said. “After getting that P2 I thought we were going to lose positions quickly but we stayed there for a while.

“We demanded more from the tyres than we should have as we were running over our pace, I pushed to the maximum. I was missing grip with those tyres in the end.

“It was difficult to keep the group behind but they would have passed me in the end so I should have finished P7 or so in reality. It was a funny race overall and I hope we can keep going like this the rest of the weekend.”

Alonso was the only driver to retire from the race, the team making the call to park his car which had suffered floor damage.

Read next: Chinese GP: Max Verstappen pounces on Lewis Hamilton mistake to win the Sprint