Alonso gets the champagne flowing again at Aston Martin: ‘Phenomenal for the team’

Fernando Alonso

NOS Sport

  • Joost Smedema

    editor Formula 1 in Sao Paulo

  • Joost Smedema

    editor Formula 1 in Sao Paulo

One podium place is not the same as the other. Team boss Christian Horner mentions the Max Verstappen’s victory in Brazil a “clinical one”. He doesn’t even mean it negatively, there’s just no way that Red Bull can handle him.

Fernando Alonso stands on the podium in São Paulo with a completely different feeling. After sensational final laps, he manages to outpace Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Pérez in a car that has given him more headaches than pleasure in recent weeks.

Champagne and cigars

Before the summer break, Alonso often found his way to the podium in his Aston Martin, but things haven’t been going well since the GP at Zandvoort. The team is also focusing more and more on the 2024 car, which does not make this year’s performance any better.

The past two races, in the United States and Mexico, were quite dramatic. In Austin, Alonso and Lance Stroll had to start from the pit lane, in Mexico City both drivers dropped out.

Alonso in Texas, two weeks ago

“A week ago we were still at the bottom of the grid and look what we are achieving now,” says team boss Mike Krack cheerfully. Behind him, in the paddock just outside the hospitality area, Aston Martin guests ask for extra champagne and cigars are lit. The mood is cheerful.

“This shows how close we are, we have stuck together in difficult times. It is a credit to everyone. Believe me, the lights have not gone out in the factory.”

Mike Krack (m) celebrates Alonso’s podium finish

Alonso defended his third place behind Verstappen and Lando Norris tooth and nail against Pérez. “I couldn’t relax. Four laps before the end I was overtaken and I thought: now it’s happened, the podium is no longer possible.”

Krack had not yet given up hope, because: “you never know how much life is left in someone else’s tires.”

I had one chance to strike back and I succeeded. Just.

Fernando Alonso

In the very last lap, Alonso fought back. “Checo braked late in the first corner and I was able to pass a little later. I had one chance to hit back and I succeeded. Just.”

The duel was so exciting that Verstappen, sovereign on his way to victory, was distracted by it on the big screens and almost missed a corner, he admitted.

When the flag fell, the difference between the two was only 53 thousandths of a second. “It was close, yes,” says Alonso. “But I enjoyed myself. It’s a phenomenal result for the team, this is for everyone in the factory.”

The fact that Verstappen had a less exciting afternoon than Alonso does not bother him. “I also really enjoy riding solo at the front. I have had to fight for podium places and victories for years. I like this too.”

Yet another record

Verstappen improves an ancient Formula 1 record with his seventeenth victory of the season. In 1952, the Italian Alberto Ascari won 75 percent of all races (six out of eight), a percentage that will be broken by Verstappen.

“I don’t drive in Formula 1 to exceed that 75 percent,” says Verstappen, who, as usual, is not concerned about a statistic he has to respond to.

“We perform at a high level and make few mistakes. These are things that happen and that you can and should enjoy.”

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