Fernando Alonso believed it was possible to win the Hungarian Grand Prix after he made his final pit stop at the Hungaroring.
Alonso set multiple purple sectors when he switched to the hard tyres having led a lap before pitting. In his mind, the Alpine driver thought he could overtake Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton which would set up a pursuit to catch the leading pair of Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon.
“I was so convinced about the podium," Alonso told RacingNews365.com and other select members of the press. "I was catching Carlos and Hamilton quite quickly.
"I was setting the fastest laps in the race and I thought I will overtake them and I would try to win the race. That was my mind in that moment. Then I start realising that maybe winning the race was not possible and overtaking Hamilton and Sainz was the target for sure.
“Hamilton pitted so it was only Sainz separating myself to the podium so I thought, okay, I will go for it and the podium is a real possibility. Then there was not enough pace, on the straight especially, the straight-line speed was lacking to pass Carlos out of the last corner.
So I started thinking at that time that if I was right behind Carlos with the DRS I could protect myself and just finish fourth. Every battle that I had with Lewis, I was losing the DRS with Carlos because I was defending it. So it was just a fight of trying to keep the fourth, but it was not enough.
“But yes, I was thinking in the podium and even the race for a moment, so I was very optimistic. Too optimistic!”
There was no communication from Alpine to Alonso about the position Ocon was in as the Frenchman went on to claim his maiden Grand Prix victory. But Alonso knew what was happening without any updates from the team.
“The team didn’t tell me anything,” said Alonso. “I knew more or less what the situation of the race was. I was looking at the big screens.
"I knew that Esteban and Vettel were fighting and they were like two corners in front of us. And with 20 laps to the end and Lewis coming two or three seconds faster, that was enough to win the race, probably. So I knew that every lap I could hold him behind that was gold for Esteban’s win.
“I thought honestly that I could not hold him more than one or two laps. But on the last couple of corners, he seemed to struggle a little bit to follow me and then it was enough to open a gap on the straight and defend.
"I think he learned a couple of different lines in the last three corners after the 10 laps behind me and he was able to pass Carlos just in one lap applying those new lines.”