At the end of an unusual Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix Mercedes did not fail to criticise Fernando Alonso who adopted a very slow pace to avoid damaging his tyres, blocking a very frustrated Lewis Hamilton behind him. But the Alpine F1 driver was clearly not fazed by this and was happy to have managed to keep the seven-time world champion behind him. The defensive driving caused Mercedes to slam Alonso’s driving; the Spanish veteran didn’t hesitate to scold Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in return.
There was no need to be in a hurry on Sunday if you wanted to follow the Monaco Grand Prix. Indeed, due to the rain, the start was postponed for more than an hour before the race was also interrupted a few minutes later after Mick Schumacher’s big crash. This didn’t stop the historic Formula 1 Grand Prix from being rather unusual at the front with Sergio Pérez winning and Charles Leclerc’s nightmare, only fourth behind Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen.
Finishing seventh, Fernando Alonso deliberately adopted a very slow pace, losing no less than 35 seconds in 16 laps to Lando Norris, who was sixth. The Alpine driver wanted to save his medium tyres and therefore took great care of them, even if it meant causing enormous frustration among the 11 drivers behind him, starting with his closest rival, Lewis Hamilton.
Aware that in Monaco it is very difficult, if not impossible, to overtake without taking considerable risks, Fernando Alonso was able to drive well short of the leading lap times, without worrying about losing places. But this did not please Toto Wolff at all, who was annoyed by the Spaniard’s behaviour, but also by the historic track in the Principality.
“It was a chaotic race in Monaco, and I say it again, but we need to review this circuit, it shouldn’t be possible to drive five seconds off the pace like a Formula 2 and still have a procession” blasts the Mercedes boss,
“It’s a fantastic and spectacular place, but it would be better if the race was at the same level (…) When we finally took the track, it was a very good afternoon for George, and very frustrating for Lewis. He spent a lot of laps stuck behind Esteban (Ocon), who was penalised for the collision, and then there was the very slow pace of Alonso, without which Lewis would have been fighting at the level of Lando (Norris) and George,” the Mercedes team boss said.
But it will take a lot more than that to faze Fernando Alonso, who took the opportunity to take a swipe at Lewis Hamilton in return.
“I opened up a gap of six or seven seconds, but Hamilton didn’t have the tyres to attack or wasn’t in the spirit to do so, so that was his problem. I’ve made enough of a gap,” said the Spaniard, according to Motorsport.com
It has to be said that the two drivers have had an old rivalry since their season as team mates with McLaren in 2007 when McLaren rather favoured the young Hamilton, alienating Alonso. Despite this, Fernando Alonso explained the reasons that led him to adopt such a slow pace:
“I think we didn’t have the tyres or the tyre life to finish the race with 33 laps to go. We had two choices: put the hard tyres back on from the start of the race, or put the medium tyres on. We put the medium tyres on, but our estimate of their life was less than 33 laps,
“We didn’t know if we could finish the race, so I managed the tyres a lot for 15 laps, then attacked in the remaining 15 when they told me Esteban had the penalty.”
In the end, that didn’t stop him from having a great time blocking the other drivers. When Hamilton’s name and Toto’s frustration were mentioned to Alonso, the Spaniard could help himself smiling.
“This is Monaco, and I love stopping certain others from overtaking me,” Fernando Alonso laughed.