Fernando, Fernando Alonso, Andrew Benson discussed on The Autosport Podcast
Let's talk about Fernando Alonso next because it was great day for him, his first podium since 2014 Qatar's cheering, unfortunately, you can't see that because of course there's any podcast, but he's looking very, very happy. I'm going to start with you because you just look so excited about this. Well, as you well know, one of GP racing's contributors. One of our great contributors is Andrew Benson, the BBC sports chief Formula One writer and also chief Fernando Alonso, fanboy. Has anyone checked in on that? Well, he was keeping it together in the Christian Horner press conference. He was there, you know, he wasn't, you know, he hadn't painted his face and, you know, popping the champagne cooks, but I imagine he was very excited. And yeah, you know, great, great race for Fernando and his first podium finish since I tasio nuvolari was a boy. Oh, no, sorry. Hungary 2014, very different circumstances. But what a great and very ruthless drive just his opening few corners. That was literally the way he defended his position, certainly against max, and then went around the outside of Pierre gasly to claim what was then second place. Around turn two, just amazing, and put me in mind of no less an eminence than Charlton Heston when he'd said that they would pry his rifle out of my cold, dead hands. You know, he was not going to be parted from that podium position. It was very remarkable. I spoke to some of the Alpine team after the race and they said that they were literally like shaking with anxiety over whether those ties would hold out. What did you think? Yeah, I can imagine. No, it was a fantastic drive is called a set of the brilliant first lap. And that really set him up well. And yeah, I mean, the alpena this weekend has just been so hooked up. And even throughout qualifiers, I think cracky, where's this pace come from? And they've been in a really good groove and yeah, Fernando, I think just, okay, yeah, the penalties helps them a little bit move up the grid, but he just took full advantage of it. And I really did wonder like, okay, oh, I'll think you're gonna be able to keep pace with like say the edit McLaren's, the Ferraris Norris and science behind, but then yeah along so what I think like a 9 second buffer or something you built up to Norris quite early on. So it was quite clear that he was going to top that midfield fight, and it was really a question of would Perez or Bottas be able to be able to catch it. And boss has obviously had his puncture otherwise, yeah, he probably would have got that place. And then I think the deciding moment though was when Red Bull switched Perez to a two stop strategy in Paris claim over the radio immediately after he stopped and when I think he made a mistake here like what are you doing? And his engineer told him, no, no, don't worry, they're going to struggle towards the end. And obviously, he did take huge chunks of time out and without the VAC yet. I think I might have been able to get there. But no, I think Fernando is fantastic. It was nice hearing over the radio as well. Saying I'll tell Esteban and east to defend like a lion. From Hungary when it was Alonso who defended to protect aachen from Hamilton, say he could win the race, and yeah, it was a really cool moment. I think that Fernando, yeah, okay, he's been an I'll admit as well. When he announced he's coming back to F one, and I was like, why? You're not going to be world champion without being. You said McLaren to those difficult years. Well, if I'm not winning, I'm not enjoying it. Why? But he has come back and he's really enjoyed himself and now he's back on the podium. And the competitive hunger of him is just absolutely phenomenal. So now I really, really good drive. Despite sep check off to the rice and obviously calm down a little bit and he said, no, I do understand why they did it and he said that it would have been risky going for the one stop because we stopped so early. Yeah, we could have been in a similar situation with a tire failure. And he kept all of it off by saying, but if anyone was going to deny me of podium, I'm really glad it's Fernando. He deserves it. And I thought that's a really nice touch. That is a nice touch. That's very nice touch. What about Esteban O'Connor as well? Because of course he came home 5th, I think it was, and it's a solid day for the team as a whole. Oh, hugely, because Alpine alpha towery went into this weekend tied on points and that battle for 5th place, which is obviously, I mean, you might think, well, who cares about finishing 5th? But the stakes involved for the constructor championship in the prize money involved is massive. And even like talking to team members, I won't say from which of those teams. But I was talking to one of them on Friday. And they were so saying like the bonus money they said between us finishing 5th and 6th is actually like it's a decent amount where it's like, I really want us to finish 5th. So everyone's invested. But yeah, I mean, and again, that I think is why it kind of compounded things for poor API gazley and for the authority team because they came away empty handed from a weekend where they had a car starting on the front row and Yuki had been pretty quick. And then Alpine much as they did in Hungary, they seized the moments quite one of our esteemed colleagues, and managed to maximize the opportunity that was given to them and came away with a hall of 25 points, which is massive. So it does kind of make you think, okay, is that battle now over? Like, can alpha tower fight back with two races to go, it's gonna be really tough because we've seen alpha target sort of making roads and making roads and recently it was like, okay, well they are the quicker team. It's a master of time until they do get in front and pull ahead. And Alpine to put a complete stop to that now. And a lot of that is down to Fernando Alonso rolling back the years with a brilliant display. And I've also another thing without wishing to ramble on too much longer. He's had fun this weekend. I said after qualifying that apparently he told the engineers, he was like, can you just fill it up with much fuel as you can? Let me just drive it all night. I'll drive that track all night. You really, really enjoyed himself, so yeah, really cool story. I really loved ocon's composure. Having been told, you have to do everything you can to stop Perez getting by you. Elbows out was the fries. And then, of course, Paris just drives by him under DRS, and he must have just kind of thought, well, you know, not going to be able to seize my moment here, am I? There's no moment to be seized. But then rather than capitulating a fought back all the way through to just beautiful and ultimately it wasn't to be. But the fact that he tried it, I kinda thought it good on you, because that is basically real racer material. So on passes, you try and pass them back. You don't just sort of sit there and go, oh well, that's it. So yeah. Thoroughly dependable. A very well done to Alpine to both drivers, as he said espan as well putting on a good show in doom. Doing what he could to support his teammate. I was very impressed with that performance this weekend and happy to see. See the progress they've made. Of course, as we've touched on already after, on the other hand, not a good day so much. What do you think that means for the battle between them to in the constructors? Because we've only got two races left. And it's all swings around about in the season. But what do you reckon for the remaining two loop? Honestly I think it's over. I think barring like a crazy racing Jeddah, which looking at that track layout may be possible, I think it's such a big point swing that yeah, it's gonna take something very big valve for tariffs to be able to recover that gap. So yeah, I mean, it's a bit of a shame. It's nice when we sort of go into the final stages of the season and there's sort of like tied on points or neck and neck to clean Abu Dhabi. But I just think this has been such a knockout blow by.