Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez recount the moments between them in F1 Brazil GP as they hail clean racing in a solid back and forth fight.
The battle was brewing since the start of F1 Brazil GP and it only came alive in the last few laps around the Interlagos circuit. Red Bull’s Perez rolled the dice and went for an early stop but came out behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
In the meantime, Aston Martin reacted and pitted Alonso who stayed ahead. The margin of 3s was dipped to under a second when Perez started hustling the Spaniard. The gap was mostly in the DRS margin which helped the Mexican to rally on the pressure.
But Alonso continued to try unconventional lines to upset Perez. It didn’t happen as the Mexican went for a move on the penultimate lap at Turn 1. He retained the place at Turn 4 but the final lap turned the tables after a minor mistake at Turn 2.
It allowed Alonso to come back at him at Turn 4 and retake the place. But Perez stuck to his guns and continues to poke the Spaniard for the rest of the lap. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get through him to end up 0.053s behind in fourth.
Both Perez and Alonso hugged each other in the media pen as they hailed the clean racing they managed to undertake. The Spaniard had to dig deep to win the battle to return on the podium, while the Mexican finally had a promising outing.
Battle with Perez –
Alonso: “I’m not sure, the closest that’s for sure! Yeah, it was a very intense race. And there was no time to relax. Very strategic race as well – saving the tyres, saving the battery always, in case you need it on a DRS opportunity for Checo. And yeah, honestly, I thought that I had things under control in the last stint, until maybe five laps to the end, where I started pushing a little bit more. I had more juice in the tyres and I thought everything was fine. And Checo was playing the same game. He had good tyres at the end of the race and he overtook me two laps to the end. And I thought ‘OK, this is gone’ and then I had one more chance and it was enough.”
How management to keep Perez off –
Alonso: “I think when you run just in front of another car, you have better downforce, you have clean air and that was maybe good for maintenance of tyre management. And he was struggling a little bit to go into Turns 10, 11 and 12 behind another car. And that was probably the game that we were playing. Those three corners were crucial for the overtaking opportunity. And yeah, when you are the car in front, you have better grip, always. So I was just making sure… Not making any mistake in those three corners, because if not, Checo will be too close. I was using the energy also in the straights just to make sure that there was no opportunity for Checo. And yeah, in the lines, we were just changing lines sometimes. I didn’t want to be always on the same line, if possible, like this. If he goes on the inside, I was from time to time on the inside from time to time on the outside. So it was not a clear direction for him to really change the racing line and take the opportunity for some clean air. So I was just trying to get some turbulence to his front nose.”
Any move that made you pleased –
Alonso: “Obviously the last lap, overtaking him, it was quite a lot of commitment because we were both all or nothing in a few corners. But I think to be honest, the most important overtaking of the race has been Hamilton into Turn 4 on lap one. That changed my race. If I start P4 and I have to fight with Hamilton in the first stint even if I can eventually get him from lap 10 or whatever, my tyres will never be in a condition to extend the first stint and then have a tyre advantage to Checo in the second stint and third stint, so for me there is one crucial moment of my race and it’s lap one, into Turn 4 with Hamilton.”
Battle with Alonso, fair racing –
Perez: “It took me a while to get through the Mercedes and basically that damaged my race. After that, we were always a bit on the backfoot with Fernando and we were chipping away from him towards the end. We came really close to get to the podium. But I have to say well done to Fernando, because it was great fight. Very fair racing. And that’s really good, because how hard we race each other with always a lot of room, I think with very few drivers, you can do this on the grid. You know that Fernando will always try to play any game, but he will always be fair. It was great racing. I think whoever got the podium was well-deserved, and he got it.”
How it came about –
Perez: “Looking at it, I had the opportunity and I went for it, drained a bit my pack and he was really fast on the straight because he was eighth tenths away from me. I don’t think I could have done anything differently in those laps, it was just the way we raced. I would have liked to be on the podium, I have to say, it hurts losing, but I’m happy for Fernando because he did a good race.”
Pitting and coming behind Hamilton –
Perez: “Obviously they had more information but I just felt our race wasn’t with Lewis at that time and we pitted a bit too early seeing how hard the degradation was but we will analyse everything back home and see what was the best.”
Here’s the fight between Alonso and Perez: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2023-sao-paulo-grand-prix-alonso-just-beats-perez-to-the-line-after-thrilling-battle-for-p3.1781753269483100530.html
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