11 May 2014
Spanish F1 Grand Prix: Alonso insists Ferrari position was priority
Fernando Alonso says that switching to a three-stop strategy was designed to help Ferrari protect its position in the Spanish F1 Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso claims that he asked the Ferrari team to change his tyres after failing to make them last the distance for his planned strategy.
Paddock rumours suggest that there was dissent in the Scuderia camp after Alonso was switched onto a three-stop strategy that eventually allowed him to catch and pass team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who remained on a two-stop plan. The Finn has played down the claims, however, and Alonso has hinted that it was his request that saw the gameplan altered.
The two Ferraris had almost come together during the first round of stops, with Alonso having to back out of a move on his team-mate at the first corner, and the Spaniard insists that changing his strategy later on had more to do with protecting the Scuderia's overall result than it was about beating Raikkonen.
“I don't know how Kimi's tyres were in any part of the race but, for me, I was already two or three laps with a very difficult rear end, so I was saying when to stop,” he revealed, “When it was time to stop [first time], I had traffic on the in-lap and, because of that, I did not pass Kimi and we were together at the end of the pit-stops.
“The traffic was a threat then for our ambitions and, in the second stint, it was the same. I finished the tyres again and the team said I could either keep going and do two stops or pit now and do three. I said we'd do whatever. Valtteri [Bottas] was on three stops, so I said we'd cover him and protect the position. I then tried to protect the position from [Sebastian] Vettel, but it was not possible.
“The intention was to keep him behind for the whole race when we changed the strategy. Between Kimi and me, who finished first was not the priority - that was to stop Vettel and we didn't manage that, so it was a shame.”
Without the traffic, Alonso reckoned he could have lapped faster, but played down suggestions that it may have denied him a shot at picking Bottas off before the end.
“Running alone in the first stint, I was 1-1.5secs a lap quicker,” he pointed out, “The start was not perfectly clean, and the first corner, with Romain [Grosjean] locking the tyres, had a little bit of everything going on.
“I don't know how far from Bottas we finished - three or five seconds - and I lost a little bit of time [behind Raikkonen] but who knows… Maybe they backed off, didn't push for the last stint, who can say. I think we did the maximum today and, obviously, we are not happy at finishing so far behind the leaders.”
Asked whether passing Raikkonen had been an important moment, Alonso shrugged, confirming that there were other reasons why the move happened.
“I had been behind him for 35 laps and then I overtook him thanks to the strategy,” he pointed out, “I had newer tyres and I was on the softer tyre when Kimi was on the hard tyre. I had to compromise the overtake a little bit as I had to save fuel with ten laps to go, so I did that then attacked with four laps to the end. It's exactly the same points for the team and we need to be fighting for better positions and help Ferrari fight for the constructors' championship. Maybe Mercedes is out of reach, but the other teams are within our potential - we need to target second place in the championship.”
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