The key to Alonso’s podium was in a great start that earned him to overtake Gasly, “you had to take it off at the start”, and in an impeccable pace that allowed him to distance himself first and defend the income later, when the Red Bull of Czech with a significantly faster car. The lap-by-lap analysis reflects the solidity of the Asturian, a Swiss watch nailing the same records in his runs with deviations of only two or three tenths, without showing off when he premiered tires and equating their rhythms to those of Pérez’s RB16B, but also to Gasly’s Alpha Tauri that had made one more stop and had fresher tires .
Alonso rolled at 1:30 highs at the start that became 1:29 before the tire change, on lap 23 of 57. By then Gasly had suffered with the soft Pirelli (the same one that Fernando came out with) rolling in 1 : 31 low. Checo, meanwhile, alternated 1:31 and 1:29 because he was locked in traffic and had to overtake other cars. After the first ‘pit-stop’, Alonso settled at 1:28 low and reduced to 1:27 high.
In Alpha Tauri they talked about “a blue Mercedes”, because Gasly couldn’t bring down the 1:28 high. Although Checo was on par, on lap 41 the Mexican had to change the tires for the second time and despite the fact that his times were unbeatable at the time (1:26 low), Alonso was able to maintain 1:27 until almost the end of the race, when he was able to lift and care for the tires.
Half a second difference with the Honda engine
But there is more: according to estimates that come from the ‘paddock’, the difference between the engines of the F1 teams is as follows: Mercedes has two tenths of advantage over Honda, five over Ferrari and 0.7 seconds compared to Renault’s power unit. It was like this at the beginning of the year, and since then some have continued to progress, or introduce new propellants to squeeze them, while the French maintain, in short, the same power unit that they mounted in 2020.
It’s a disadvantage on the straights that forces the Alpines to run with less downforce than is necessary to defend against overtaking, or attack. AND even so it has been worth them to win the Hungarian GP with Ocon and get on the podium in Qatar, and also to settle in fifth place in the constructors’ position behind four giants, Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren, and with a 25-point advantage over Alpha Tauri.