Fernando Alonso compared losing out to Romain Grosjean after a Virtual Safety Car period during the Hungarian Grand Prix to having his wallet stolen.
The whole field was running at a reduced pace while marshals cleared Max Verstappen’s stricken Red Bull early in the race, with the VSC giving drivers a message that it wound end but racing wouldn’t resume until after a random delay a few seconds later. Grosjean was just behind Alonso on the restart but managed to react quicker and jumped the McLaren into Turn 2.
“With Grosjean I felt like he stole my wallet!” Alonso said. “He just did a better job; we have a few seconds’ warning the VSC is about to finish, so I was trying to get close to the delta time I was given, between half a second and zero.
“The ideal is to be within 0.1s and when I got the green light I accelerated immediately, but by then Grosjean was already alongside me, so he must have done a perfect job, with the right timing. I lost the position there but thanks to the pit wall I got it back soon after.”
Alonso recovered to finish eighth — helped by running long on the soft tires before switching to mediums until the flag — and was full of praise for a McLaren strategy that allowed him to jump a number of cars.
“In the end it turned out OK. The races are on Sunday, many people get very happy on Saturdays but come Sunday they don’t score points. I think we did a good race, particularly the strategy was really good, we managed to extend the first stint by quite a bit and managed to get both cars into the points, in eighth and ninth place, which was really great, so a big thank you to the pit wall. Then, of course, Stoffel [Vandoorne] had an issue, but at least we managed to score a few points.
“We didn’t really have a fixed strategy when we went into the race. We had thought we would stop between laps 20 and 25 but, in the end, we went almost all the way to lap 40, because we could see [Esteban] Ocon was holding the group we had been fighting with and every extra lap we managed to get was worth gold. We tried to extend the first stint as much as possible and it worked out fine.”