The start of the 2022 Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix, the first after returning from the holidays, seemed like a difficult challenge for all the drivers, since the two candidates for the world championship, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, started from the bottom of the platoon.
For this reason, many cars went out of their natural position, as happened with Fernando Alonso and, surprisingly, Lewis Hamilton, since both the Alpine and the Mercedes lacked the necessary pace to fight for victory with the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz and the Sergio Perez’s Red Bull.
It all ended in an accident between the Spanish and the British in Les Combes that caused the seven-time champion to abandon due to damage to his W13. However, the man from Oviedo continued in fourth place, holding off the approaching pack after seeing that his A522 was damaged in the front left wheel.
The safety car stabilized the event, and Fernando Alonso was able to stay in the fight for the front positions, although Max Verstappen soon overcame his rivals, including the Alpine, in his comeback to take the lead. After changing tires, he was solidly placed in sixth place, to mount the hard ones on lap 26 and try to reach the end of the test.
With a good pace he stayed in positions to score big points, and a last lap penalty on Charles Leclerc for exceeding the speed limit in the pitlane on his stop to set up a game of softs and go for the fastest lap, allowed to move up one place to be fifth after 44 laps.
The incident with Lewis Hamilton compromised the rest of his career, and he even called him an “idiot” when contacted at Les Combes, which is why he was asked once he got off the Alpine: “For me, it was a small mistake. for his part to close the door like this, and at Turn 5 we have seen many, many times here that he goes parallel. The same thing happened to him with Rosberg a couple of years ago [in 2014].
The stewards decided not to penalize the Englishman because it was the first lap, to which Alonso said: “It was an incident in the first lap, I think it happens especially in that corner. There are many things that happen, and normally you cut the curve 6 and you continue straight on the 7”.
“It is a complicated part of the circuit, without a doubt, and it was a racing incident, nothing to say,” explained the Spaniard. “I’m sad because when I start second or third these things always happen, and when I start from 12th or 13th I have a clean race.”
“I wanted to have a normal race, and we already started with an incident, then with a very aggressive strategy and stopping early every time. I don’t think I was the smartest, but in the end being in the top five makes it a good ending. of the week with the penalty from Charles [Leclerc],” he continued.
“So fifth and seventh [Esteban Ocon’s final position] is a great result for the team. It’s been a bad weekend for McLaren so we’ve maximized those points,” said the Spanish driver.
Regarding the accident, Alonso continued explaining how it happened: “I think he thought I wasn’t there anymore, so I don’t see it being a mistake, it’s just that, in the heat of the moment you try to take the slipstream and brake late, turn into inside, and sometimes you don’t measure the cars or where everyone is, but I don’t know.
“I was very disappointed, when I start well on the front row or the second row all those things happen, and I’m sure [Hamilton] was frustrated at the time, but he accepted his mistake and it’s appreciated,” Alonso said.
The damage caused by the accident caused Lewis Hamilton to end up out of the race, although the Alpine driver was able to continue, but not before seeing that his car was fine: “I was checking that the car was fine. I also remembered what happened in Paul Ricard with Yuki [Tsunoda], that Esteban had a similar incident, when Yuki went off the line and Esteban was fine, so it seems our car is very resistant against any contact, but let’s not try to use that force.”
“I think I was going to finish sixth no matter what happened in the first lap, but those fun moments of being first, second or third only last 500 meters, so unfortunately that was the sad part,” said the Spaniard.
“I think our race pace was like it has been in the last few races, so there is no way to compete against the top three teams, and we have a little bit of an advantage over the middle zone,” he said. “We are in no man’s land making our own career.”
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