Fernando Alonso believes his performance in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix makes it “an unrepeatable race” due to the damage he suffered on the opening lap.
Starting from 13th place, Alonso was caught up in an incident with Sergey Sirotkin and Nico Hulkenberg that forced him into the wall on the exit of Turn 2. Both tires on the left side of Alonso’s car were punctured, and he limped back to the pits with the floor dragging on the track. The damage was so bad that Alonso hit the wall on the pit entry as the car wouldn’t turn quickly enough, but he managed to fit new tires and recover to finish seventh in a chaotic race.
“I’ve seen the photos of the car damage,” Alonso wrote on Twitter. “Now I have no doubt, it was an unrepeatable race.”
That tweet came after Alonso had already described the race as one of his best-ever performances, having been at the back of the field when the Safety Car was deployed on the first lap.
“The lap 1 incident destroyed the car there,” Alonso said. “Two punctures and we damaged the floor, the front wing, everything, so I thought it was a DNF. But because the Safety Car was on the track we kept running with significant damage on the car.
“We found ourselves for whatever reason very competitive and overtaking cars. So we stayed in the race, and then P7 is a unbelievable result, probably one of the best races I ever did.
“You have to think. You feel the car is horrible coming into the pit lane with no tires and the damage on the car, and then you put new tires on, you go back in the race, and then when the Safety Car goes off you need to be flat out in the corners because you are racing with other cars around.
“So you need to trust that everything is working okay, and even if it was not 100 percent it was still enough to be competitive. So happy for that.”
McLaren was again not competitive in qualifying in Baku but recovered to score points with both cars in the race, and Alonso describes the team’s return as “amazing” as it remains fourth in the constructors’ championship.
“The weekend has been not great for us, but to finish both McLarens in the points is a great result for us. And it gives us motivation for the next race.”