Fernando Alonso attributes his fifth place in the Belgian Grand Prix to work Aston Martin has been doing to understand a recent dip in competitiveness.
Aston Martin was the standout story of the opening rounds as it emerged as the second-fastest team to Red Bull and Alonso picked up six podiums in the first eight races. Since Canada, however, Alonso has failed to finish higher than fifth and results of seventh at Silverstone and ninth in Hungary and led to the impression Aston was slipping back before a strong climb to fifth again in Spa.
“I felt definitely more competitive than the last few events,” Alonso said. “It was not an easy weekend to go into the rhythm, and the wet qualifying and track changing all the time. So not much experience in the dry.
“I was lucky at the start. Before Eau Rouge I made a few places there, and I was a little bit worried if we will fall back, you know, and the pace will not be good enough to keep that position. But it was good — the car felt fast. We kept one Mercedes behind, one McLaren behind. So, we were in the mix. And that’s good news before the summer break.
“The car felt fast, the guys did an incredible job again on the strategy, also on the pit stops. We made a few places also (in the sprint), even if we didn’t finish the race. And yeah, I think the car felt more normal. So we had few thoughts after Hungary and after Silverstone. So the team was making few setup changes also to the car, and I think it paid off. The car felt more normal, more competitive. So I’m happy — a good boost for summer.”
Team principal Mike Krack believes Aston Martin has found a solution to some of the issues it has been facing since significantly upgrading its car, and praised the team for repairing damage at Spa to allow the engineers to get a better understanding.
“The data looked positive from what we have seen so far,” Krack said. “Obviously with not so many dry laps before the race this is provisional — we need to dig deep now to see where we have ended up but we looked a bit more competitive than recently.
“I think we have really done 24/7 analysis trying to understand and also trying to do something about it. Obviously in the short time between Budapest and (Spa) there is not so much that you could do, but credit that we managed to do something.
“Everybody was really flat out, and also after the offs (on Saturday) to prepare the parts again, so a great credit to everybody involved. That was really, really nice, to allow us to look at this and try to improve the car for the next race.”
Krack says the main difference in the Belgium result was the fact that Alonso had enough pace to ensure he did not lose positions that he had gained at the start.
“That obviously has been key to make the steps to the front, but Fernando said as well that lately we also made some steps at the beginning and then dropped back in the order, so he said he was not in the trap to fall back again. He gained a position at the beginning and we could hold it — it was not that there was a major danger coming from the back, and this is the difference compared to the previous races.”