F1 Analysis: Alpine strategy cost Alonso a podium – The Formula One 2022 Canadian GP provided plenty of excitement, but given Fernando Alonso started the race P2 it looks as though his team cocked up the strategy. Alonso finished P7 behind his team mate following some dubious strategy calls from the Alpine team. FIA then decides to penalise Alonso.
Following the start, Alonso failed to challenge the pole sitter Verstappen from P2 and within 3 laps was passed by Ferrari’s Charles LeClerc. However, the Spaniards’ race pace was good enough to easily hold off Lewis Hamilton who failed to make a single challenge on the Alpine car.
Lap 9 saw the first virtual safety car where Verstappen stopped for fresh tyres. Neither Sainz in P2 or Alonso and Hamilton pitted and held station.
Lap 20 saw another virtual safety car, where Hamilton was called in, but Alpine left Alonso out.
Alonso has a reputation for being able to manage the tyres better than most others and it appeared Alpine were set on a one stop strategy for their Spanish driver regardless of the race dynamics.
During the next phase of the race, Lewis Hamilton was 2 seconds a lap quicker than Alonso and by the time Alpine finally pitted their lead driver he had been overtaken by Hamilton.
It is worth noting that Hamilton pitted under the Virtual safety car which is 10 seconds quicker than a stop during the normal phase of the race.
Alonso was pitted later without the advantage of a safety car, so not only had he been 2 seconds a lap slower than Hamilton because the team failed to pit him at the same time as Lewis, but his stop was in effect 10 seconds longer than Lewis.
From thereon, Alonso struggled to regain the ground he lost, finishing P7 behind his team mate Esteban Ocon.
Had Fernando simply covered Hamilton’s pit strategy there is no reason to suggest he would have fallen behind the Mercedes driver.
In the pen following the race Fernando graciously claimed his power unit was ‘clipping’ unnecessarily late in the race, causing him a performance deficit. That said, there was no radio message during the race to confirm this.
Further, with 5 laps to go the Spaniard believed he was quicker than his team mate – clipping or not aside – and asked them to allow him to pass.
The team declined his request.
Following the race Alpine boss a subdued Otmar Sznaufneur claimed failing to pit Alonso had no effect on his race, without conviction.
"A 2-stop wouldn't have worked for us!"
Otmar Szafnauer's defends Alpine's decision not to bring Fernando Alonso in for an earlier pitstop ⚠️ pic.twitter.com/jwcHLlsDLJ
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) June 19, 2022
Yet the fact Fernando held off Hamilton easily for 20 laps suggests a different result was possible. Hamilton made the podium and surely had Alonso matched his two stop race strategy the podium was there for Fernando too.
To add insult to injury, Alonso was awarded post race by the stewards a 5 second time penalty and a penalty point for weaving – relegating him two positions to P9 behind Guanyu Zhou. A disappointing Sunday after a surprising Saturday.