Fernando Alonso to ‘take care’ of Sebastian Vettel at his final race start

Jamie Woodhouse
Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin and Fernando Alonso, Alpine, embrace. Azerbaijan, June 2022.

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin and Fernando Alonso, Alpine, embrace in front of fans. Azerbaijan, June 2022.

As Sebastian Vettel makes his last Formula 1 start, Fernando Alonso will be alongside him, aiming to keep him protected from trouble.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will bring the curtain down on a legendary career for Vettel, one which has produced four World Championships, claimed in successive seasons between 2010-13 at Red Bull.

The Aston Martin AMR22 will be the car that gives Vettel his final grand prix outing, and starting P9 after a strong qualifying display, matching his best grid slot of the season, Vettel will have fellow veteran and multi-time champ Alonso alongside him on the fifth row.

Alonso said that he and the other drivers were staying extra vigilant in qualifying as to avoid putting a potential damper on Vettel’s Saturday, and for Alonso this will continue into the race as he hopes to see Vettel safely get beyond the start and opening lap, with the goal of them both seeing the chequered flag.

“Yeah, I was very happy,” Alonso told media, including PlanetF1, when asked about Vettel’s final qualifying.

“It’s not that we tried to help him, but we all tried to have an eye on him when we saw him in the mirror, when he’s coming on a fast lap or whatever, because we want a smooth weekend for him.

“Even tomorrow I think he will start ninth, I will start 10th, so I will take care of him at the start and the first lap. Let’s hope we both see the chequered flag.”

Abu Dhabi also marks the final race for Alonso in Alpine colours ahead of his switch to Aston Martin.

The Spaniard was promoted to P10 on the grid due to a three-place penalty for McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, the team who Alpine are looking to beat to P4 in the Constructors’ standings, Alpine holding an advantage of 19 points over the Woking outfit.

Just 0.028s split Ricciardo and Alonso in Q2, but focus now switches to Sunday, where Alonso is confident of signing off for Alpine with a points finish.

“It was so close, you know a couple of milliseconds and we were three or four cars and I was the last one of that group,” Alonso told Formula 1.com. “But yeah, you never know here in Abu Dhabi.

“Anyway I think we will start 10th, so yeah, the points are really close to us tomorrow and we will try to fight for those.

“I think we’ve been normally a little bit better on Sunday than Saturday, so let’s see tomorrow.”

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

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