Alonso: We played the race like a game of chess

Fernando Alonso ended the 2022 French Grand Prix with a solid sixth place for Alpine, after what he dubbed a game of chess he was playing with McLaren.

McLaren made a big improvement to both of their cars, but Alpine held on to their advantage as Lando Norris couldn’t pass Alonso, finishing seventh, while Esteban Ocon overhauled Daniel Ricciardo to finish eighth, with the Aussie settling for from ninth place.

As a result, Alpine edged McLaren in the constructors’ championship to fourth place, but by just four points.

“I am very happy!” Alonso was quoted by the official Formula 1 website as saying: “I think the start was mega, from seventh to fifth – some risky moves there and then good tire management.

“I think P6 was the maximum today,” he admitted. “The tires were acting better than expected so we had to manage but not as much as we thought. I’m happy with our race today. It was well executed from our side, and we managed the pace well and the tires.

“We had to work on a lot of things in terms of car balance this weekend, but we ended up finishing just behind the top five, so a very solid race at the end and more points on the board for us,” revealed the Spaniard.

“It shows that when we have a clean weekend like this we can finish in the top six positions,” he said. “Hopefully we can maintain that level of consistency through the second half of the season and keep the momentum going.”

Alonso highlighting all the experience of his 40 years

One of the highlights of the race was a radio exchange between Alonso and his team, where he was warned that Norris was closing in on him in the DRS range, only for the two-time champion to respond he cleared it in goal to ruin the tires of the Briton.

“I’ve done 350 races, so I know what I’m doing! Alonso joked when asked about the incident. “It was fun. The start was probably crucial to get ahead of Lando. I think [McLaren] have a very similar pace, but being ahead of them in the first two laps was enough to control the race and control the pace.

“I think we played the race like a game of chess,” he said. “We tried to position the McLarens close to us and get some clear air up front, so overall…it was a good Sunday.

“I wish I could challenge the Mercedes in front of us or Checo [Sergio Perez] but it wasn’t our league so from there it was just to control [the McLarens] and if they get close to us they damage the tyres, so it was not a concern at that time.

“So, happy for that. Let’s go to Budapest, again,” concluded the 2005 and 2006 Champion.

Alonso’s run received praise from another world champion, Jacque Villeneuve who won his title with Williams in 1997, and praised the Alpine rider in his column.

“I would like to mention Fernando Alonso,” he wrote. “The way he held off the McLarens and burned their tires, after which Ocon was able to catch Ricciardo.

“It’s pure experience and that’s exactly why Alonso still has a place in Formula 1,” insisted the Canadian.

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