Fernando Alonso felt he had the pace in his Alpine to challenge for pole position at the Australian Grand Prix before a hydraulic failure put him in the wall.
The Spaniard had shown strong pace throughout Q1 and Q2, proving the class of the midfield, but come Q3 his opening flying lap was on course to potentially put him in among the scrap between Ferrari and Red Bull over pole.
Sadly though, that lap for Alonso came to an end when he went off at Turn 11 and hit the wall.
The damage was terminal from the impact of the crash. But as Alonso later suggested over team radio, a hydraulic failure had caused the crash and so with the gearbox, engine and power steering broken it would have been curtains for his pole chances even if he had avoided the wall.
It marked the latest frustration for Alonso, who has been blighted by reliability problems in the early stages of this season, with that hydraulic problem following on from a water pump failure which forced him to retire from the previous race in Saudi Arabia while also putting him on his third and final permitted Internal Combustion Engine for the season.
Alonso is out of the car and appears to be okay 👍
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 9, 2022
“[It’s] something we need to investigate when the car is back,” said Alonso after his Q3 crash, quoted by The Race.
“It’s unbelievable how unlucky we are. [If it happens] 20 seconds later, maybe we were on pole.
“Only for my car it’s a concern, the other car [of Esteban Ocon] seems okay.
“That’s why I said it’s a bit unlucky because if we had a reliability problem on both cars and they were facing issues, it could be something we need to fix. But it seems quite random and [usually] in the moments when we are fast.
“In Bahrain, we were P9 or P10. Maybe you don’t care if the car stops, but in Jeddah we were okay and today a top two or three was guaranteed I think.”
For many, it was a surprise to see Alonso so competitive at Albert Park, except for the Spaniard himself.
In fact, he told The Race this is his “best weekend in years” and so while contending for pole was maybe a surprise, it was not to see that Alpine have made gains on the leading duo of Ferrari and Red Bull.
“The car is getting better and better, we feel more confident,” Alonso continued.
“The team is working hard and maybe a surprise to fight for pole, but not a surprise to be closer and closer to the leaders.”
Even if Alonso does start from P10, which is not a given considering the repair job ahead, it is unlikely he will be able to secure a podium finish without some rare good luck.
But he definitely believes Alpine are due another podium very soon.
“Let’s see when the car comes back to the garage if we need to change something that gives us penalties or whatever,” said Alonso.
“Right now, in the heat of the moment, when you are so close to pole position, tomorrow scoring a couple of points is okay – but we deserve a podium sooner or later.”
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