Fernando Alonso has issued a robust defence of the Ferrari strategists after he lost the win in Canada yesterday and ended up fifth by gambling on a one-stop strategy.
The Spaniard led the race on lap 50, when Lewis Hamilton came in for his second stop of the afternoon. As Alonso came around at the end of lap 51, Hamilton’s new soft tyres were still coming up to temperature and Alonso had a 14.8 second lead over him.
It was enough, arguably, with Ferrari’s track record this year of very fast pit stops, to chance their arm on a stop and retain the lead. He would at the very least have come out side by side with Hamilton. But Ferrari were thinking about Vettel, who was only three seconds behind at that point and clearly also contemplating a one stop.
“I don’t want to hear anything about strategy mistakes, ” said Alonso last night. “Tyre degradation made the difference. We stopped only two laps earlier than Grosjean and he finished second. ON his car the tyres lasted 55 laps on our car only 45 laps. That’s the story right there.
“We tried to win the race, but the gamble of only making a single stop did not pay off,” added Alonso. “When Hamilton came back into the pits for his second stop, we chose to try and play our hand: now itʼs easy to say that we should have made that choice too, but it would have meant we had tried nothing and we could also have lost position to Vettel.
“Also letʼs not forget that it was that very same strategy that allowed to us to get ahead of Vettel at the first stop. The car was competitive practically all race long: it wasnʼt the quickest because here the McLaren, as was expected, was very quick, but definitely we have made a step forward in terms of performance. We need to work out how to improve the tyre degradation.”
Ferrari’s argument is that they were going for the win, not for damage limitation, as they had done at every race so far this season. Perhaps they got caught up in that mentality. Because once Hamilton pitted for fresh rubber, there should have been a damage limitation element to their next move.
For a full analysis of how the race got away from Alonso and Vettel check out our UBS Race Strategy Report, which will be live soon here on JA on F1