Alonso says Alpine 'execution' deserved Russian GP podium

Fernando Alonso delivered another solid bag of points to Alpine in the Russian Grand Prix but rued the... The post Alonso says Alpine 'execution' deserved Russian GP podium appeared first on F1i.com.

Alonso says Alpine 'execution' deserved Russian GP podium

Fernando Alonso delivered another solid bag of points to Alpine in the Russian Grand Prix but rued the late rain shower that disrupted the race, insisting his driving and his team's flawless execution were worthy of a podium in Sochi.

After launching his race from P6, Alonso lost a few spots in the opening laps of Sunday's race before moving back up the harder while banking on a long first sting on the hard compound tyre.

The Spaniard had progressed all the way up into second place after 35 laps when he switched to the medium rubber for his planned final stint.

As the race entered its closing stages, Alonso overhauled on the road Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez to push himself up to third. But as the rain set in and conditions worsened, the Alpine charger had no other choice but to follow his rivals and pit for a set of intermediates.

The final few laps left Alonso P6 in the running order and ruing his lack of luck.

"I think we should be on the podium today in terms of executing the race and driving," said the two-time world champion who felt that he had been as unlucky as long-lasting race leader Lando Norris.

"We were in front of Verstappen, we were pulling away from him, we were in front of Sainz. Norris did an amazing race. And just by luck, he’s not on the podium or his first ever win in Formula 1.

"When it rains it’s just a very lucky factor. And I’m sad because when we are not competitive and we are P11 or P12, it never rains so we never get lucky. And today we are P3, today it just rained.

"So not sad but definitely we are not very lucky."

Alonso, who scored in Russia his eleventh top-ten finish of the season, nevertheless took solace from the fact that every point Alpine has scored this year was "on merit and deserved".

"We never had any presents," he said. "We never had any gifts, today or this year. So I am proud of every point that I took this year."

  • Read also: Wolff explains why Mercedes pit wall overruled Hamilton

Assessing Alpine's season year-to-date, the 40-year-old F1 veteran underlined how the French outfit is extracting the most from its A521 contender to achieve some remarkable results.

"Some weekends we look a little bit less competitive, like Monza, both cars in the points," he said. "Some weekends we look more competitive like Zandvoort or here in Sochi and we finish top six.

"We could have even finished today on the podium. So there is something that we are doing good on the weekends and on Sundays, especially to score so many points with sometimes not the fastest car out there.

"So I’m very proud of the team, of the progress. We are working towards a very strong team and looking for next year hopefully the package is competitive out of the factory, but the team here at the race weekend is ready to fight."

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Hamilton "wasn't even sure 100th win would ever come"

Lewis Hamilton has finally achieved a new milestone in the sport of Formula 1 by clinching his 100th... The post Hamilton "wasn't even sure 100th win would ever come" appeared first on F1i.com.

Hamilton "wasn't even sure 100th win would ever come"

Lewis Hamilton has finally achieved a new milestone in the sport of Formula 1 by clinching his 100th Grand Prix victory in 281 race starts since his debut in Australia in 2007.

It's an achievement that no other driver in the history of the sport has ever managed to do. But the 36-year-old, seven time champion admitted that he'd started to fear that this moment might never happen, after four consecutive races without a win in 2021.

"It's taken a long time to get to 100 and I wasn't even sure whether or not it would come," Hamilton told the media in parc ferme after the end of a thrilling 2021 Russian Grand Prix.

Hamilton started the race from fourth place but lost out at the start, leaving him running in seventh over the opening laps and struggling to pass the slower cars ahead of him.

It allowed Pole winner Lando Norris to pull away into a commanding lead, which Hamilton then had to cut down to size after everyone made their pit stops.

"Lando did such an amazing job, he had incredible pace," Hamilton acknowledged.

The end of the race was thrown into disarray by the weather. Even as Hamilton was fighting Norris for the lead, heavy rain started to fall meaning that teams and drivers had to decide whether to pit for intermediate tyres or not.

Hamilton was initially resistant to the idea of coming in and felt the rain was already abating, but he was forcefully overruled by the Mercedes pit wall who had the weather radar at their disposal.

"Obviously the team made a great call right at the end," he acknowledged. "I didn't want to let Lando go, but of course I didn't know what the weather was doing.

"I'm incredibly, incredibly grateful to all these men and women that are here and back in the factory," he added. "Because, wow: 100!"

Norris attempted to stay out but was eventually overwhelmed by the conditions and finished in seventh. Hamilton paid tribute to his compatriot's efforts this weekend.

“It would have been tough to have got past Lando. He had great pace, he did the fastest lap, so it would have been tough to get past unless we caught some traffic or something, or he made a mistake which he hasn’t been doing at all.

"He's doing such a great job for McLaren," Hamilton added. "It was very bittersweet to see my old team ahead. They've been doing so well, they won the last race, so they're doing fantastic - powered by Mercedes!

Today's race had certainly been a huge turnaround for Hamilton after the events of qualifying on Saturday in which rain once again played a major part, including two spins for Hamilton in the final minutes.

"Going to bed last night, I obviously wasn't the happiest with the job that I did yesterday," he accepted. "I watched the replay over and over again and there were subtle mistakes, just not ideal.

"I was so determined when I came in and woke up this morning, I was determined to do the best job I could."

©Mercedes

Victory in Sochi means that Hamilton is now back in the lead of the drivers championship with eight races remaining in the 2021 season.

But Hamilton will be surprised that it's not by more, after his chief rival Max Verstappen overcame a back row start to finish in second place on Sunday.

"Obviously Max must have done a really great job to come up to second from last," Hamilton said. "There is nothing I can do about who is behind me, that's a dream result for Max. But I’m grateful for the points.”

“To come from last to second is a huge effort. The Red Bulls are so fast,” he added in an interview with Sky Sports F1.

“They’ve been quickest pretty much most of the year. They’ve done a great job. To come from last, have a penalty, two penalties ... Whatever it was, to come back to second, that is mega damage limitation.

“We’ve got to see what we can do moving forwards. It’s going to be tough to beat them, but we’re going to give it everything.

"We've got our work cut out!"

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