Why Fernando Alonso took ‘uncomfortable level of risk’ in Monaco pole quest

Henry Valantine
Fernando Alonso after qualifying. Monaco May 2023.

Fernando Alonso salutes the crowd after qualifying ends. Monaco May 2023.

Fernando Alonso was going all out in his search for pole position in Monaco on Saturday, and admitted he was taking “uncomfortable” risks as he tried to secure P1 on the grid.

The Aston Martin driver had earmarked Monaco as a potential venue where he might have a chance of victory this season, and had sat top of Q3 heading into the dying moments of the session.

Max Verstappen was two-tenths down on Alonso’s best time through the first two sectors in Monaco, but pulled off a stunning final part of the lap to steal pole position from his fellow two-time World Champion’s grasp on Saturday, and the two will share the front row on Sunday as a result.

The search goes on for Alonso for his first pole position since the 2012 German Grand Prix, but having come onto team radio and said he was “driving like an animal”, it certainly was not through lack of effort on his part.

So much so, that he was even pushing the boundaries to the edge of what he was comfortable with on Saturday.

“We were increasing the level to an uncomfortable level of risk, let’s say,” Alonso told reporters after the session, quoted by Motorsport.com.

“I think both laps in Q3 were a little bit over the limit sometimes, but everything went fine. The last sector seems our weakest part of the circuit.

“We were, I think, eighth quickest in the last sector. So there is something going on there that we need to analyse a little bit. Maybe going Singapore or whatever is the next opportunity [to address] that.”

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When it comes to his chances in the race, Alonso is aware that qualifying can be all-important around the streets of Monte Carlo, so acknowledged that his hopes of a race victory may well hinge on a mistake from Verstappen and Red Bull, if the start of the race goes as expected.

“I think we have to to execute the race calmly, try to put everything in place and having a good strategy, a good start, no mistakes from anybody on the team, from myself, and let’s see the final result,” Alonso told Sky Sports F1 after the session.

“I think to win the race we will need some help from Max, maybe a lucky Safety Car or a bad pit stop from Red Bull. I know they are the best ones on the pit stops, but maybe one race they can have a mistake – and those kinds of things will give us an opportunity. On a normal race, I think it’s going to be very difficult.”