Fernando Alonso surprised by questioning over key Monaco strategy call

Jamie Woodhouse
Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso arrives at the Monaco paddock.

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso arrives in the paddock.

Fernando Alonso was surprised when the decision to pit for dry tyres as rain arrived in Monaco was brought up in several post-race interviews.

With the threat of rain looming as the Monaco GP entered its final third of action, it created an awkward strategy call for the likes of Alonso, the Aston Martin driver having started on the hard tyre, while leader Max Verstappen did so on the mediums.

Alonso had been closing in on Verstappen when Aston Martin pitted him on Lap 55, at this point the rain having arrived on the scene, focused on the Mirabeau and Portier sections.

The team decided though to keep Alonso on the slick rubber by fitting a set of medium tyres, and with the rain soon spreading across the circuit and making dry-tyre running impossible, Alonso was in on the next lap to switch to inters.

Verstappen went on to win the race with a margin of 28 seconds over Alonso, Red Bull having held fire and made Verstappen’s first stop being the one for inters, and in the post-race press conference, Alonso was asked if that extra pit stop cost him the chance to win?

It turned out that was not the first time he had heard this question, one which continued to confuse him, as “99 per cent” of the track was dry when he made that stop for medium tyres, so he did not understand why people were expecting him to have taken on intermediates at the time.

Aston Martin team boss Mike Krack has since revealed that the radar had told the team that very little, if any rain was going to reach the track.

“I don’t know,” said Alonso when asked if that extra stop saw his victory chances slip away? “I heard this question in the TV pen as well. Which, I was surprised a little bit.

“I didn’t leave the race from the cockpit, as you probably saw on the outside.

“For me, it was very clear that the track on that lap we stop was completely dry, apart from Turn 7 and 8. So, how will [I] put the inters? It was completely dry, 99 per cent of the track. So, I stopped for dries.

“The weather forecast, it was small shower, and the small quantity of rain as well, what we had, as a team, and we had a lot of margin behind us, to put the dry tyres and, if necessary, the inter tyres, so, you know, maybe it was extra safe, I don’t know.

“But that minute and a half that it took to go through Turns 5, 6, 7 and 8 again, it changed completely, so the out-lap on the dry tyres, it was very wet when I go to those corners, but the lap that we stopped, it was completely dry.”

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Quizzed on whether he felt Verstappen was beatable if the track had stayed dry, Alonso put a stop to such a thought, saying “we didn’t have a chance” in his opinion.

“I think we didn’t have a chance, to be honest,” he affirmed. “I think we were brave on the strategy: it’s not normal that you start on the first row of the grid and you choose the hard tyre, trying to do the opposite of the leaders.

“And that shows the commitment from the team and how aggressive everyone was in Aston Martin, trying to get the win.

“We knew that it was some downside that the strategy we could have ended-up maybe P5, P6 or something like that, out of the podium. But this morning, we discussed it and we said we’ve had couple of podiums this year so we go for all or nothing, we start on the hard tyre.

“And we didn’t have the pace. That was the only problem we had in the race. I think the strategy was good. The medium tyre was behaving surprisingly good in our opinion. We were hoping for more graining or bigger degradation and Max was able to drive 50 laps on an amazing pace, and that was the reason why he won the race. Not because the strategy: he was just faster than us.”

P2 does though represent Alonso’s best result in Aston Martin colours, as he moved to within 12 points of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in P2 in the Drivers’ standings.