2022 F1 driver rankings #4: Alonso · RaceFans

Why would Aston Martin put money into a 41-year-old driver who has not taken a race victory in nearly ten years and whose final world championship got here earlier than Lewis Hamilton made his grand prix debut?

However with Fernando Alonso persevering with to race such a excessive stage in Formulation 1, the correct query to ask can be ‘why not?’.

Alonso’s popularity as one of many elite drivers within the discipline has been influenced as a lot by Alonso himself and his military of adoring followers because it has his real prowess on the observe. However Alonso’s 2022 outcomes on paper, it is likely to be troublesome to inform why he deserves such a excessive rating – particularly thus far above his group mate. Nevertheless, Alonso’s second and last 12 months as an Alpine driver was one the place the common laments over misfortunes that has change into such a trademark of his was pretty justified.

Esteban Ocon, Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022
Jeddah was the primary of many run-ins with group mate Ocon

It was not the strongest opening to the season for Alonso. Regardless of heading into Bahrain benefiting from Alpine’s first set of upgrades earlier than his group mate did, he couldn’t match Ocon’s tempo within the race and was lucky that Crimson Bull’s retirements enabled him to take any factors in any respect.

In Jeddah, Ocon out-qualified him by lower than a tenth after which proceeded to combat so exhausting to maintain Alonso behind him within the early laps of the race it was as if the pair had been combating for the championship. After ultimately clearing his group mate, Alonso was struck by his first automotive failure of the season when his Alpine overheated, forcing him into retirement.

In Melbourne, Alonso was simply plain quick. Within the prime 5 of each session from second observe onwards, he breezed into Q3 earlier than setting a purple center sector on his first flying lap of the ultimate part. Then, his hydraulics failed him underneath braking for flip 11, ending his session within the gravel entice and leaving him tenth on the grid. Within the race, his bold technique on the exhausting tyre was closely compromised early on, a Security Automobile scuppered his possibilities of a restoration and he was pressured to pit a second time, dropping him to seventeenth.

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Alonso was comfortably faster than Ocon throughout Imola however dropped from fifth on the dash race grid to ninth for the grand prix. When the grand prix started he was hit by Mick Schumacher on the first chicane, wounding his automotive a lot that Alpine known as him in to retire.

Alonso breached his energy unit allowance by spherical six

However after three weekends of misfortune, he was fully in charge for lacking the factors in Miami. After lacking Q3 he gained 4 locations off the road, bumping into Hamilton alongside the best way. After getting caught behind Pierre Gasly for over 20 laps, Alonso misplaced endurance and made a careless lunge at flip one, hitting the AlphaTauri and incomes a five-second penalty. Then late within the race after the Security Automobile restart, Alonso lower the chicane behind the circuit twice in a not-so-subtle bid to remain out of DRS vary of the vehicles chasing. He was investigated and penalised for a type of incidents, demoting him out of the factors after the race.

At dwelling in Barcelona, Alonso suffered from being the primary driver to be hit with an influence unit grid penalty within the season – simply six rounds right into a 22-race season. Regardless of ranging from the again of the grid, he did a commendable job within the race to stand up into the factors in ninth, regardless of a small delay on his last pit cease. In Monaco, Alonso crashed out of Q3 however he nearly acquired away with out anybody noticing due as all eyes had been on the melee additional down the street. Within the race, he once more demonstrated his disregard for conference by intentionally backing off after the restart to successfully maintain up half of the sphere at will. After ending as ‘better of the remaining’ in seventh, he later claimed to be attempting to assist create a buffer for his group mate to negate a penalty, which proved unsuccessful in that case.

Alonso’s on-track eccentricity surfaced once more in Baku, when he made a suspicious mistake in qualifying following a pink flag that simply occurred to make sure the vehicles behind him needed to again off underneath yellow flags. He completed seventh within the race, main the 2 McLarens and his group mate dwelling.

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When F1 rolled into Montreal, Alonso rolled again the clock by storming onto the entrance row of the grid with an excellent qualifying effort within the moist by which he was second in all three phases. It was inevitable that he can be handed by the sooner Ferrari of Carlos Sainz Jnr within the race, however Alonso was cursing his unhealthy luck when he began to expertise an ERS failure 20 laps into the race. Regardless of shedding straight-line velocity, he fought exhausting to maintain himself in competition for factors – maybe too exhausting, as his apparent weaving on the again straight on the ultimate lap to maintain Valtteri Bottas behind value him two locations after the chequered flag. Once more, he got here away with fewer factors than Ocon regardless of having pushed higher throughout the weekend.

Alonso was mighty within the moist in Montreal

In one other moist qualifying session at Silverstone, Alonso was once more a number of rows forward of Ocon on the grid. Within the race, he took benefit of the late Security Automobile to leap forward of Norris after which held him off within the last laps to say ‘better of the remaining’ honours in fifth. However there was but extra frustration in Austria when an electronics failure in previous to the dash race left him rooted to the again row of the grid for the grand prix. Regardless of this, he fought again up the sphere, overcame an additional pit cease as a consequence of a unfastened wheel and ended up taking the ultimate level by passing Bottas on the ultimate lap to salvage some reward from an aggravating weekend.

When issues outdoors of his management weren’t falling aside, Alonso was persistently beating Ocon. However his group mate was not providing him any concessions out on the observe, resulting in a second main flare-up of the season between them on the opening lap in Hungary. Alonso fumed that he’d by no means been handled by a group mate on observe like he had by Ocon, however acquired revenge by promptly asserting he would depart the group on the finish of the season to race for Aston Martin in 2023.

Alonso had uncommon good luck in Spa, surviving contact with Hamilton on the opening lap and inheriting fifth after Ferrari botched their late quickest lap try. He was solidly better of the remaining in Zandvoort to take sixth, however then the automotive troubles started to strike once more. He retired with a water pump failure in Monza and one other energy unit downside pressured him out of the Singapore Grand Prix whereas working in sixth.

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His efficiency on the Circuit of the Americas was considered one of his finest drives of the championship. With out the up to date flooring supplied to his group mate and taking yet one more energy unit grid penalty, Alonso comfortably reached Q3 over Ocon to begin 14th and was as excessive as seventh earlier than the Security Automobile was deployed. On the restart, he made the error of not leaving ‘Stroll house’ whereas in his future group mate’s slipstream and was despatched bouncing into the air and into the wall. Regardless of the scare, Alonso managed to pit for repairs and recovered all the best way to seventh by the flag, along with his right-hand wing mirror flapping unfastened and ultimately dropping off later within the race. (For some time it appeared that element would value him the outcome, although he finally averted a penalty.)

Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2022
The retirements simply stored coming for Alonso

In Mexico, he suffered his penultimate retirement of the season inside a handful of laps from the end. Then in Interlagos, his on-track rivalry with Ocon reached its boiling level with the pair clashing twice on the opening lap of the dash race. Whereas Alonso may have been aggrieved by the dearth of house he was supplied exiting Descida do Lago, working into Ocon on the pit straight was his fault. After a stern telling-off from his soon-to-be former group, Alonso rose from 18th on the grid to take a powerful fifth place and 10 very important factors in Alpine’s battle with McLaren within the constructors’ championship.

It was nearly becoming that Alonso’s last race at Alpine in Abu Dhabi would finish with a failure along with his automotive – the fifth time he had been pressured out of a race early by means of no fault of his personal. Added to all the opposite issues he had confronted by means of the season outdoors of race day, he could possibly be forgiven for being keener than most to place 2022 behind him and stay up for yet one more new starting at Aston Martin.

Whereas his last putting within the standings didn’t present it, Alonso had been one of many excellent drivers of the season. Aston Martin could have misplaced a four-time world champion whom they dearly admired from their group, however based mostly on Alonso’s showings by means of this final season, they should have a great feeling about who they are going to change him with subsequent season.

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