Martin Brundle reveals tactics used by Fernando Alonso to ‘frustrate’ Sergio Perez

Michelle Foster
Red Bull driver Sergio Perez racing against Fernando Alonso.

Sergio Perez racing Fernando Alonso at the Brazilian GP.

Martin Brundle believes it was Fernando Alonso’s use of “unconventional lines” that allowed him to hold off Sergio Perez in Brazil, until he made a mistake on lap 69.

Alonso and Perez created the highlight battle of the Brazilian Grand Prix as the Mexican driver closed in on the Spaniard to hound him for third place.

All over the back of Alonso’s Aston Martin, and in the fastest car on the grid in the RB19, Perez wasn’t able to find a way through until lap 70 where he overtook Alonso down the straight and into Turn 1.

‘Great racing from a pair of drivers with a combined age of 76’

However, two small mistakes from Perez allowed Alonso to stick with him and after a failed attempt to regain third at Turn 4, the double World Champion tried again on the final lap and made the move stick.

He crossed the line 0.053s ahead of Perez.

It was an enthralling battle, one in which Alonso used all his defensive know-how as he went for “unconventional lines” to throw Perez off his stride.

Brundle says it was “great racing” from the pair of them.

Impressed with Perez’s “rejuvenated talents” and “deft out-braking manoeuvres” to home in on Alonso, he wrote in his latest Sky Sports column: “I thoroughly enjoyed watching this battle of high-speed tactics.

“Alonso was using and placing his car well to frustrate Perez behind him, in what looked like a much faster car.

“Their tyre lives were identical and it was a straight fight to the flag. The racing would be hard, the defensive moves dramatic and bordering on late, but always leaving racing room, for which they would both applaud each other post-race.

“Alonso was using unconventional lines to get the best traction from critical corners with his battery suitably charged.”

But a small mistake at Turn 12 on lap 69 gave Perez the opening to pass the Spaniard into Turn 1 on the penultimate lap.

“Surely game over?” Brundle continued.

“But Alonso stayed close enough to get his DRS rear wing open behind Perez heading into the last lap, and Perez overdefended and ran a little wide. This gave Alonso all the incentive he needed to grab more DRS and seize back the podium place into Turn 4 with some aggression.

“But it wasn’t over yet, there would be the drag race from the foot of the hill at Turn 12 all the way to the chequered flag, and Alonso would win out by 0.053 seconds.”

He added: “Great racing from a pair of drivers with a combined age of 76 and 630 F1 races between them.”

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Alonso discusses his tactics in Perez battle

Alonso spoke about his tactics in the post-race press conference with the Spaniard changing his lines through the corners lap after lap to throw Perez off.

That also created turbulence on the nose of the RB19, negating some of its speed advantage.

“I think being the car in front, you have a little bit of an advantage in terms of grip in the last three corners,” he said.

“So I was just making sure… Not making any mistake in those three corners, because if not, Checo will be too close. I was using the energy also in the straights just to make sure that there was no opportunity for Checo.

“And yeah, in the lines, we were just changing lines sometimes. I didn’t want to be always on the same line, if possible, like this. If he goes on the inside, I was from time to time on the inside from time to time on the outside.

“So it was not a clear direction for him to really change the racing line and take the opportunity for some clean air. So I was just trying to get some turbulence to his front nose.”

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