Fernando Alonso fought his way in typical fashion from ninth on the grid to third place at the British Grand Prix, and with it re-ignited his championship challenge by reeling in Sebastian Vettel (who suffered a DNF) to the tune of 15 points and reducing the deficit at the top of the table to 21 points. He spoke during the post race press conference at Silverstone.
You again drove a storming race. You really got caught out by the second Safety Car – you were down and had to charge back up through the field. Fantastic drive back into the podium.
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, it was a good race for us. With the last Safety Car we lost six positions, but overall I think it has been a very lucky race for us. Looking at the problems with the tyres of some of the drivers, the fact we didn’t have any problem we have to consider lucky. And then with Sebastian’s problem, as Nico touched on before, we’ve been also lucky to recover some points. At the end it was a very good Sunday and hopefully we put on a good show for the great, great fans. They’ve been here from Thursday to today, supporting all the teams, respecting all the teams. Thank you very much.
The championship, is it blown open now? Here you have a points gain on Sebastian.
FA: Mixed feelings to be honest. Happy for the points, we’ve reduced the gap a little bit in this race but the pace we saw this weekend is not good enough. There were some other Sundays that we lost some points and maybe I was more optimistic. Today we recovered some points but we know there is a lot of work to do. But I trust the team, we are united, we have a difficult weekend, we put the cross [on the calendar] and now we think of the next one.
What did you think before Sergio Pérez when his tyre blew? What was going through your mind there?
FA: I’ve had two moments, that one with Sergio I was so scared and so lucky because I missed the contact by one centimetre. And also at the start into turn one. I locked the tyres and nearly lost the front wheel. As I said, some risky moments. All of them were fine for me today, so I just need to enjoy the result but from tomorrow working in Germany race because we need to raise our game.
A very quick call when Vettel retired there, to come in and make a stop. Dropped you down to eighth. I was wondering whether the team had made a mistake there but you managed to fight your way through some amazing overtakes. Did you think you might have blown it at that point? And your thoughts on the race.
FA: No, obviously it was an unlucky situation. They called me in around Turn Five. So, Vettel was not having the problem yet at that point [when] they call[ed] me. We were in this lap and we try to pass Webber and Kimi, they were slowing down a little bit in front of us, so we committed to stop before Sebastian’s problem. And then yes, I go out of the pits and I see ‘Safety Car deployed.’ Obviously it was the worst time possible to have a safety car, when you have just pitted, and we lost an extra five positions. I don’t know how many overtakings I did all the whole race. The start was probably the worst start of years. Probably. I was fighting with Hülkenberg in Turn Three, Turn Four, and I remember he was not in the first positions on the grid so I realised I was quite far down there. After the start we recovered some positions, some safety car moments as we touch on, and then the last big push at the end as we try to get a podium. We did it, it’s a fantastic result for our very difficult weekend. Sometimes we have very good pace, we have a car that is able to fight for the wins and we are out of the podium. This weekend everything went a little bit on the wrong side for us, we get the podium and Sebastian doesn’t finish the race. It’s one of these weekends where the result is very good but the feeling is that we must improve for next weekend.
Obviously on the day when your main title rival retires, you want to try to take 25 points and not 15 but the qualifying situation really wouldn’t allow you to do that today. What do you go away from this weekend and back to Maranello telling the team?
FA: Well it was not the qualifying, it was the weekend in general. We were normally very fast on Fridays, on the long run pace. It was not the case here. We were not fast on qualifying and not fast on the race – so definitely was the overall weekend we didn’t manage to make the tyres work. We’ve been very lucky – unlucky with the Safety Car moment that came out but very lucky with the first corner, that it was very close with Mark and Grosjean I think. In the first stop, lap nine, I had a tyre problem also. My tyre was finished and disintegrated in the last corner. For me it was the right rear that I think was new compared to all the other failures and if this happened like Felipe – that I think was in Turn Five when it happened – then I lose the race. For me it happened in the last corner and I pit. At the end it was a very lucky race and I just need to be very thankful for the team, for the luck and try to improve for next weekend.
In the last races, every Sunday you seem to have to overtake five, six positions from the start to the end; I wonder if you would explain what you feel, both physically and psychologically?
FA: I’ve been doing this for the last five years, unfortunately. It would be nice to start on the front row of the grid but we are not good enough on Saturdays and it’s something we try to work on as a team: the package, car performance, tyre preparations, driver maximising the lap. Whatever we are missing on Saturdays, we haven’t been on pole position for a long time but we fight, we gain some good experiences in my career, especially in 2008 and 2009 were maybe not so bad seasons in the end, with no good results but very good experience and you try to play safe, obviously when you are fighting very hard with some rookie drivers etc it requires a little bit of extra care but we managed today to do some good moves and some good points, but as I said, it’s something that we don’t like to do and we would like to improve Saturday’s situation.
Nurburgring is not like Silverstone in terms of fast corners and all of that, but if somebody tells you that the same thing is going to happen, that the tyres could explode there, would you race or would you tell the people that’s enough?
FA: Theoretically the cars are the same all year. They were OK on most circuits so it should be OK, but for sure it’s something that what we saw today is not good but we drive the cars so we understand nothing about what is the real problem or what it is the real solution so it’s a question for them, for sure.
You were asked by your race engineer after the tyre failures to stay off the kerbs; how much did it affect your racing, in particular Mark and Fernando who had been in fights or battles with other drivers?
FA: I didn’t change, I didn’t change lines. I was fighting with twelve cars all the race through so you go in the dirty air, let’s say, and you lose downforce and you go straight out over the exit kerb. As I said, it’s hard to believe that the kerbs were the problem because we’ve been racing here for 12 years with those kerbs. (FIA-Apex)