Fernando Alonso believes his clash with Esteban Ocon cost him a chance of points in the Sprint, but Aston Martin’s pace bodes well for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
Ocon was on a flying lap and passing Alonso — on a slow lap and to the outside of the track — at Turn 3 when the Frenchman had a snap of oversteer. The correction saw him run wide and hit Alonso’s front left wheel, causing Ocon to crash heavily and damaging the Aston Martin to the extent it couldn’t run again after the end of SQ1.
Starting the Sprint from 15th, Alonso climbed to 11th with some strong overtakes and says it shows more was possible with a clean day.
“Yes, it was [frustrating] because I think we had good pace,” Alonso said. “Now in the race, we saw that we were fast, so we lost a possibility to score a few points. But it is [what] it is. Better that it happened today and not in the main qualifying yesterday. So let’s see tomorrow in the race if we’re going to score big points.”
The stewards investigated the Sprint Shootout collision and opted to take no further action against either driver, with Alonso feeling both were unlucky.
“I don’t think it could go either way,” the Spaniard said. “I think he lost the car, and unfortunately I was in the wrong place in the wrong moment. But without losing the car, you never go there. But you know, this is the way it is.”
While Alonso is confident the pace shown on Saturday bodes well for Sunday’s grand prix when he will start fourth behind teammate Lance Stroll, he says the psychological boost for Aston Martin could be just as important regardless of the weekend’s final result.
“It was promising,” he said. “Definitely we have to execute a good race tomorrow without any mistakes. Hopefully a good start with the strategy, and we can go through the first couple of laps without any incident, then let’s see the pace. If it’s enough to finish in the top five, top six, whatever, we will take it.
“I think especially after this race we have some kind of relief, some weight off the shoulders of some people, and going into the right direction is a good boost for everyone in the factory. We really needed this type of performance here in Brazil.
“If we had another weekend struggling, maybe that was a little bit worrying, but we always kept pragmatic and doing some tests, some experiments, even if they were painful, and hopefully we have a lot of data now to analyze everything.”