Fernando Alonso is well known for his good finishes in Formula One. But his result in Baku was the “best of his career” while it fell under the radar in the chaos how did he get his damaged career?
How did Alonso finish in Baku?
BBC News has been given exclusive access to Fernando Alonso’s car which finished seventh in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Alonso managed to get a badly damaged McLaren home, however in the chaos of the race that slipped under the radar.
Alonso himself was shown photographs of the damage to his car on Monday and said on Twitter: “Now I have no doubt. It was an unrepeatable race.”
It’s not the first time the two-time world champion has talked up his own performances since joining McLaren and being saddled with an uncompetitive car. Without judging the other occasions, though, this time it was undoubtedly justified.
Racing director Eric Boullier, who showed me around the car, said the Spaniard’s performance was “a mega race. What he did is unbelievable.”
Alonso was sandwiched at the first straight by two cars, which puncher both his rear tyres and by the time he got back to the pits he was down to wheel rims. At the back of the car, there was damage along the right-hand side of the floor all the way from the very back of the diffuser – the upward slope at the rear – to forward of the rear wheel.
All in all, Boullier, said the damage cost “20 points of downforce, more or less – so half a second a lap”. The Frenchman says getting back to the pits an achievement in itself. McLaren could not see all the damage, because the front floor is hidden by the aerodynamic shapers behind the tyres.
So after checking the car was structurally sound and safe, they sent Alonso back out with new tyres and front wing. He spent a couple of laps asking what they could see from the data and whether they needed him to change any settings. It turned out that, while it had lost downforce and was theoretically slower, it felt OK to drive
Kevin Magnussen caused some outcry from Pierre Gasly after saying he would rather “die in the car” rather than hold back. So what did he mean?
Magnussen clarifies “die in the car” comments
Kevin Magnussen has clarified the comments saying he would rather “die in the car” rather than hold back, insisting he has apologised to Pierre Gasly “many times” after their Azerbaijan Grand Prix incident.
After Sunday’s race in Baku, the Frenchman labelled the Haas driver “the most dangerous driver I have ever raced with” after their high-speed coming together, quotes from the Dane surfaced where he stated he had to be aggressive in the midfield – hinting that he was doing so on purpose.
Magnussen told Reuters “There’s nothing to lose if you’re 11th – go for it. Sometimes you have to be a lot more aggressive when you’re fighting out there.”
“I will give everything. I will die in the car. I won’t hold back. I would put my life on [the line]. Absolutely.” In a Tweeted image of a word document, he clarified his comments.
“The interview was done before the race in Baku and is not minded on the incident with Pierre in the race. I didn’t squeeze Pierre on purpose and have apologised to him many times after the incident”
“I don’t want to die in a race car. I was expressing my willingness to give absolutely everything in my power to achieve success. Success to me obviously isn’t having accidents or getting penalties but finishing races as high a position as possible.”
“I am living my childhood dream of racing in Formula 1 and I’ve put my whole life into achieving that dream so it is only natural for me to be giving absolutely everything I’ve got, to achieve success in racing and the day I no longer do that I will retire from racing immediately.”
Despite the plans for new races in the Americas and East Asia, there have been some questions about the sports future heartland in Europe. With European races facing financial difficulties and three out of contract by 2020, why has Chase Carey insisted the races are safe?
Not turning our backs on Europe
Formula One Chairman and CEO Chase Carey have insisted that the sport will not turn its back on Europe, despite the push for races in new venues like Miami and East Asia.
Next week the city of Miami is due to vote on whether to push for a multi-year deal to host an F1 race. With F1’s owners Liberty Media also eager to get a race in Vietnam, there are concerns that the sport could shift its focus to other regions – which would risk losing some of its traditional events.
The futures of the German and Belgian Grand Prix’s are uncertain as they need to renew the contract for 2019, plus the British Grand Prix triggered a break clause meaning its future is uncertain after 2019.
Asked by Motorsport.com about the push for the race in Miami, which could be added as early as 2019, Carey reassured F1’s fans that new Grand Prix’s would not come at the expense of core European races.
Carey said, “We have been very clear from probably the day we came in about our goals and ambitions to grow the sport in the US, and grow the sport also in Asia.”
“We are very proud of the race we have in Texas, but we have talked about destination cities and I guess the three we have thrown out most often have been New York, Miami and Las Vegas. So it fits with what we have been talking about and saying.”
However, he made it clear that the expansion in places like China and the Americas must not be at the expense of the European races which he says is the sport for must be strong and build on its foundations.
Carey does believe, however, that there are big opportunities to make F1 more popular by adding fresh events in other continents. “This is a strong sport in Europe, but we believe there are opportunities to grow the sport in places like in China and the US, the two biggest media economies in the world.
“We have announced some initiatives in China recently when we were there in Shanghai and have taken some steps to do that. We are likewise looking to do that in the US.
Lewis Hamilton is one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport. This season, the four times champion is facing a fight with Sebastian Vettel, but what would it mean for him to win it this year?
Fifth title “would mean even more” – Hamilton
Four times champion Lewis Hamilton says winning a fifth world title in 2018 “would mean even more” because Mercedes are locked in a very close battle with Ferrari and Red Bull.
Last year, the Englishman said that it would be much more satisfying to be able to fight another team and driver like Sebastian Vettel for the title. This year, Mercedes have a much stronger challenge and are yet to win a race in the first three races of the season since 2013.
Asked by Motorsport.com what it would mean for him to come out on top in a close battle involving two other teams, Hamilton said: “Who knows what the season holds? If it continues the way it is, it’s going to be very tough to win.
“But if there’s an opportunity, and we were to finish on top, it would mean even more, as it’s even a tougher season than before.” Hamilton has admitted that the Chinese Grand Prix, showed that Mercedes doesn’t have the fastest car at the moment.
However, says that not having the fastest car at the moment has not changed his thinking and his goal remains the same. Hamilton says that the team has lost performance since Melbourne and the team are working on those issues.
Fernando Alonso is regarded as one of the sports best drivers, with him leading the McLaren charge this season why does his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne believe he is now more capable of producing the same performances?
Vandoorne believes he capable of matching Alonso
Stoffel Vandoorne believes he is now more capable of producing the same performances as his teammate Fernando Alonso in difficult situations.
Vandoorne’s first full season coincided with the final difficult season of McLaren’s partnership with Honda, while his teammate Alonso managed to deliver some results. Though results so far still show McLaren is in the midfield, the Belgian has been closer to his teammate.
He has qualified one place behind his team-mate in all three Grand Prix’s, trailing him by 0.25 seconds on average, with his race highlight being a Bahrain charge to eighth after falling to last at the start. Vandoorne believes he is beginning to emulate Alonso’s ability to “pull it out the bag”
Vandoorne told Autosport “He knows how to overcome a few things, how to build his weekend towards that critical moments. One of his strengths, whatever the conditions and circumstances he always delivers at 99%”
“That for me has been very good to learn out of. I definitely feel I became a lot stronger and am able to do this myself a lot more now whenever conditions are difficult or the situation is tricky.” McLaren’s struggle with one lap pace has meant it has been unable to get through to Q3.
Vandoorne, who only has six points and struggled more in the last race in China than the first two GPs, insists he takes the challenge of being Alonso’s team-mate positively.
“I have a great benchmark, I know exactly when I’m up there, fighting for the last few hundredths, we’re getting 100% out of the package. If I want to be world champion one day I’ll have to beat a world champion.”
That’s all from Reporters for this week goodbye.