Fernando Alonso says it was easier to defend in some of his iconic 2005 races than against Sergio Perez late in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
The two-time world champion famously held off Michael Schumacher for multiple laps at Imola in 2005 to win for Renault, with the pair locked together for the latter stages of the race. At Interlagos, Alonso pulled off a similar feat against Perez before losing out starting the penultimate lap, only to re-pass the Red Bull and keep Perez at bay by 0.053s for third place.
“It was easier in 2005, because no DRS,” Alonso said. “That was probably easier. Now, with DRS…and yeah, things are a little bit different and you have to play things a little bit different as well. Tire management is also very different than back then, when you can maybe push the tire all the way.
“[Although] if in 2005 you lose the position, then it’s bye-bye, you cannot recover, and here I had another chance. It has been introduced to provide a little bit better show, and today is a good example of that. You get overtaken two laps to the end, then you have another chance, especially here in Brazil.
“We saw yesterday as well, when there is an overtaking done into Turn 1, there is a possibility — a strong possibility — into Turn 4 that someone will get it back, the position. That’s why we see some very nice battles and races always in Interlagos.
“It has been a spectacular weekend as always here in Brazil. Sometimes it’s the weather providing this great show. I think this weekend, without any rain or any weather, we saw incredible races. There is something in this track that gives a perfect opportunity for Formula 1 to shine, and it was nice.”
Alonso says the key to his success against Perez was to keep the Red Bull driver facing dirty air from the Aston Martin as often as possible.
“It was a very intense race. There was no time to relax, a very strategic race as well, saving the tires, saving the battery always in case you needed on a DRS opportunity for Checo.
“Honestly I thought that I had things under control in the last stint, until maybe five laps to the end where I started pushing a bit more. I had more juice in the tires and I thought everything was fine. Then Checo was playing the same game. He had a good tire at the end of the race. He overtook me two laps to the end, and I thought, ‘OK, it’s gone.’ Then I had one more chance, and it was enough.
“I think when you run just in front of another car, you have better downforce, you have clean air. That was maybe good for me in terms of tire management, and he was struggling a little bit to go into Turn 10, 11 and 12 behind another car. That was the game we were playing; those three corners were crucial for an overtaking opportunity. Being the car in front, maybe you have better grip always.”