Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso relay their cat and mouse game in F1 Australian GP as tyre life was crucial amid red flag scenario.
There was a great battle in F1 Australian GP between 2007 McLaren teammates Hamilton and Alonso, a real cat and mouse stuff and shades of their battles in the past, even if we think about a recent one in 2020 Hungarian GP. The two elder statesmen of the sport with a combined age of 80 by July gave it all even via mind games.
Both Hamilton and Alonso were talking on radio about their tyre life and it hinted that they were trying to play with the other considering either teams could listen what was being said. “I think Fernando’s a little bit quicker,” said Hamilton. “I mean, he was in my tow, so I think we were probably slightly quicker on the straight and he was quicker through all the corners”.
“So I think we definitely have some performance to find. It definitely wasn’t easy keeping him at bay, and keeping them out of the DRS zone. But it was really quite interesting, just to see where we were, where we were lacking, and where we were good. And so there’s lots of positives to take but we do naturally need to add on some performance”.
“I mean, they’ve been ahead the past two races but for us to somehow still finish ahead is pretty awesome. So I’ll definitely take it,” summed up Hamilton. Despite the lack of pace, Mercedes are in a better place than Ferrari at the moment. It was a great weekend which was spoiled by George Russell’s power unit issue.
Meanwhile, for Alonso, three Grands Prix down and three third places. He hung in at the back of Hamilton but eventually settled for a podium in another satisfying weekend for the Spaniard and Aston Martin, with Lance Stroll taking an impressive fourth.
“I mean, incredible,” said Alonso. “For the team as well, it was third and fourth. It really made me feel happy for the boys and girls in the team. The race was not easy for sure. I think at the beginning obviously we got lucky with the first red flag because George, and Carlos pitted, so we benefit from that”.
“And then yeah, in terms of pace we were very close to Lewis, also through the race – but every time that I tried to get close, yes he seemed to pick up the pace. I try to put some pressure but he had an incredible race, no mistakes at all, as you probably expect from him, a champion”.
“But only one lock-up, I think, Turn 13, in 58 laps. So I was trying to put pressure but nothing happened. So yeah, I will take P3,” summed up Alonso. The race saw three red flags which is the most stopped Grand Prix ever. After the first red flag, both Hamilton and Alonso changed tyres and it appeared they might make it to the end of the race without further stopping.
It was not only a gamble but also a risk, notwithstanding that it is always an issue keeping the tyres alive while hunting down each other. “I think I had a lot more tyre than I thought that I did at the end,” said Hamilton. “There was a moment where I thought the tyre was opening up and Fernando was applying pressure, then backing off and I had decent pace and then closing the gap again”.
“He had two or three charges which I had to then really up the ante and try to match him, which was which was tough. I was able to be around a tenth or so off him, or sometimes ahead. But definitely, with 18 laps to go, I was thinking jeez, I don’t know if these tyres are going go all the way”.
“But then he had a moment where he backed off and I was able to save a bit and then got into a good rhythm and I was able to just keep that gap exactly the same for those last 10 laps or whatever. So was just counting it down, just hoping, hoping that it would just stick with it”.
“And yeah, he was very, very consistent from what I could tell, didn’t make any mistakes. Fernando doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. So, it needed to be a good job,” summed up Hamilton, as Alonso concurred that the tyres performed better than he expected especially with the rained-off FP2 where they didn’t get to undertake long-runs”.
“I think, at the beginning of the second race, let’s say, there were some doubts that the tyre could make that distance, because we missed FP2 long runs and everything,” said Alonso. “But I agree that at the end of the race, the tyres were better than expected. They could keep going.”
Here’s George Russell on win chance in Australia
Here’s Lance Stroll on Lap 1 situation