Fernando Alonso says he had the backing of Aston Martin to take a “risky” approach on the late restart to try and beat Max Verstappen in the Dutch Grand Prix.
Verstappen had been leading comfortably from teammate Sergio Perez before a late downpour saw the Mexican go off at Turn 1 and drop to third behind Alonso, with the race red-flagged shortly after. With a six-lap sprint to the finish in wet conditions, Alonso gained on Verstappen out of the final corner in the wet and he says he had discussed trying to win the race rather than settle for a strong second with his team beforehand.
“I was thinking about trying, so I was not conservative, let’s say,” Alonso said. “I thought about what to do a lot in the red flag period, so I thought what the possibilities would be. Obviously the move into Turn 3 was something that was in my head, also into Turn 1.
“I discussed it with the team as well [about my feelings] — that I wanted to try today — but obviously I didn’t want to compromise any big points for the team because second was very important as well. They were happy with me trying. I think they have trust in me as well [about] whatever I decided.
“On the restart I tried launching the lap [in Turn 14], trying to be flat in the banking with the cold tires — which is a little bit risky — and tried to be side-by-side at least into Turn 1, but I was not that close. After that I tried some different lines, inside, outside, the opposite of Max for the first lap in case one of the lines was very grippy — or much grippier than his — and it was close but not enough.”
Alonso had made early progress in the wet on slick tires to put himself in the frame for victory, and he attributed his second place to the confidence he was getting from his Aston Martin.
“Today the car was working really well and I felt confident driving,” he said. “I had the trust in the car — because obviously in these conditions you need that level of trust in how much you push. The car was fast in the dry, fast on inters and probably our most competitive part was at the beginning of the race when it was just a few drops of rain but we were still on the slick tire.
“We quickly switched to the inters so we could not capitalize on that, but we still made some moves — in Turn 3 at the start on Alex and George, and also on Lando on lap two — so I was quite happy with the race. It was one of those Sundays where you feel connected with the car, you feel in sync with the car and, everything you do, the car is just answering perfectly well.”
The Spaniard thinks it would be premature to suggest Aston Martin is back to being the clear second-fastest team despite upgrades brought to the past two races, though.
“I think [it’s] too early to say. I think the car is better than the previous events, that’s for sure. The car felt easier to drive, we were more competitive, we’ve been in the top five in every session this weekend. It was not only [in] the race where we were fast. We felt competitive since Friday. But Monza next week is a completely different layout, minimum downforce…and drag, and let’s see if we can still be competitive.”