Fernando Alonso identifies ‘one metre mistake’ by Sergio Perez in epic podium battle

Henry Valantine
Fernando Alonso celebrates his podium at Interlagos.

Fernando Alonso beat Sergio Perez to the podium at Interlagos by the tiniest margin.

Fernando Alonso believes a ‘one metre mistake’ from Sergio Perez on the final lap helped put him in a prime position to strike back and retake third place at Interlagos on Sunday.

Alonso had been defending staunchly from a charging Perez for much of the final stint during Sunday’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix, but his defence of the final podium place appeared to come to an end on the penultimate lap when Perez launched a move at the Senna S to get ahead.

But it wasn’t over from Alonso’s point of view, setting up the Red Bull driver to get back past again with a thrilling move on the final lap, with the two separated by just 0.053s come the chequered flag.

Fernando Alonso reacts to thrilling final Sergio Perez battle at Interlagos

Having been passed, Alonso thought his podium chances had evaporated, but was thrilled to be able to get himself back into the top three come the finish line.

He lauded Perez for his role in the battle as well, praising the Red Bull driver for how he goes about wheel-to-wheel contact.

“It was nice, it was a clean battle – very aggressive but clean battle always with Checo,” Alonso told Sky Sports F1 after the chequered flag.

“I think he has a very good record finishing the races and always battling hard but keeping both cars on track.

“I knew that he was coming, I knew that he was a threat and at the end it was maybe more difficult than I thought, to be honest.

“Five laps to the end, I thought that he is under control, so I started pushing and then I look at the mirror and Checo was there and I said, ‘oh no’ – I think he was saving tyres as well, so he will be a strong contender for the podium.

“At the end, I’m happy that we did it. I think, for the team, we were struggling a lot in the last two races, but we never lost focus on what was the target.

“We went deep in the analysis. We stayed united, we stayed together, and this was a very nice thing to witness in the last two events.”

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Once Perez got past Alonso on the penultimate lap, Alonso admitted he thought his chances were “gone” for getting on the podium – but took a high line out of the Senna S to put him in prime position to fight back the following lap into the braking zone at Turn 4, Descida do Lago.

And from within his cockpit, he realised that Perez helped him in that battle with the most minor of cornering errors.

“Honestly, I thought that maybe my chances were gone in Turn 6, I went on the outside to change line but then I picked up a lot of marbles and then the tyres were dirty, the tyres were vibrating as well and I thought ‘okay, this is gone’,” he said when discussing the moment Perez overtook him.

“But then I wanted to have one more chance into [Turn] 1 or into 4 with the DRS, maybe braking very aggressive, very late.

“I think he understood that as well, so he braked late into [Turn] 1, missed the apex by one metre and that gave me the run into 4.

“So, unexpected to be honest. When I lost the place, I thought it was gone.”

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