Fernando Alonso believes he was robbed of a first podium since returning to Formula 1 by lucky calls from other drivers in the Russian Grand Prix.
Alpine won in Hungary courtesy of Esteban Ocon but Alonso has yet to finish higher than fourth since returning from a two-year absence, and looked set to end that wait in Sochi. After a long first stint on hard tires, Alonso was climbing through the field on mediums and moved up to third place ahead of Sergio Perez as rain started to fall. When the downpour increased, though, he felt other drivers inherited fortune.
“I have to be happy with the points,” Alonso said. “I think it’s a good place for the team, for the constructors’ points, but I think we did a very good race. We had amazing pace. We could keep up with Perez in the first stint, and after the pit stop we even overtook (Max) Verstappen, at one point, so the car was flying.
“I think we deserved more. When it started to rain, we overtook (Daniel) Ricciardo, Perez and (Carlos) Sainz, and we were P3, so I really thought that the first podium was possible and on merit, not luck, by pure pace. Then it started to rain heavier. Some people stopped earlier, some people stopped late. I think Lando (Norris) and myself, we lost a lot of places. Charles (Leclerc) as well, Perez as well, and some people got very lucky and they’re up there in the podium.”
Alonso also disputes the notion that the drivers who stayed out on slicks were taking a punt on the conditions, stating those who pitted first were the ones who rolled the dice without knowledge.
“No, they took the gamble, normally you wait on the slicks until the conditions are not anymore suitable for that slick tire and they changed tires when it was still OK for slicks, but in the next 20 seconds it started raining very heavily and you cannot predict that intensity of the rain.
“They were struggling with the slick tires, they gambled and it was their lucky day. I think we deserved more, but plenty of positives for the team. As I said, the level of competitiveness that we showed in the race (we) had not seen it in any other race until now, so we need to try to understand why and keep it forward, for Turkey.”