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Monaco Grand Prix 2023

Did Alonso throw away a shot at the Monaco GP victory?

It was Fernando Alonso's first legitimate chance of victory against Red Bull, so how would it have turned out if he pitted for Intermediates instead of Mediums?

Alonso Monaco
To news overview © XPBimages

It was three laps of chaos midway through the Monaco Grand Prix which decided the fate of Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin.

As if the drivers were not already having to cope with the challenge of driving around the tight streets of Monaco, on Lap 51 rain started to hit the middle sector and added another reason as to why they might end up in the wall.

Many of them chose to extend their first stint in anticipation for the rain given that teams were unaware of its intensity. Even though they could cope with the initial showers, once it became more substantial it proved too risky to stay out on what were already bald tyres.

Alonso was comfortably doing lap times in the 1:19s and maintaining the gap to Verstappen, whom had just dispatched his latest line of traffic while leading. But in the space of 3.3km that time dropped off dramatically to 1:24s for both drivers at the end of Lap 52 - it was clear the slippery middle sector was having an effect on their performance.

The pivotal point for Alonso came on Lap 53 when his times dropped as low as 1:30.862, it was at this stage that Aston Martin decided to call him in for his scheduled stop.

Over team radio Alonso discussed the conditions with his engineer, initially saying he would go for Intermediates but believed the track was too dry throughout.

Alonso: "Turns seven and eight, I'd normally go for inters but the rest of the track will be too dry I guess. I don't know mate."

Chris Cronin: "Ok mate, we're going to box this lap. And it will be for Mediums."

He later claimed that the track was "99 per-cent dry" when he elected to come in, however at the same time both Mercedes drivers and Alpines stopped for Intermediates.

Head-to-Head: Alonso, Verstappen, Hamilton

Lap Verstappen Alonso Hamilton
50 1:17.314 1:17.408 1:17.110
51 1:17.427 1:19.991 1:18.294
52 1:24.046 1:24.967 1:26.237
53 1:29.919 1:30.862 1:31.341
54 1:38.946 1:50.311 1:55.141
55 2:10.567 2:06.635 1:39.603
56 1:46.131 1:48.531 1:41.277
57 1:43.464 1:42.581 1:43.278

Being on the right tyre at the right time

It's often said that you have to "be on the right tyre at the right time" whenever Formula 1 races take place during changeable conditions.

On Intermediate tyres, Lewis Hamilton put in a 1:39.603 on Lap 55, with Esteban Ocon producing a 1:42.379 and Pierre Gasly a 1:43.220. Even with a spin during his lap at Mirabeau, George Russell produced a 1:55.804.

Verstappen was still on 55-lap old Medium tyres and produced a 2:10.567 - over 20 seconds slower than the Mercedes and Alpines.

Had Alonso swapped to the Intermediates instead of the Medium tyres, it is likely that he could have done similar times to the Alpine and Mercedes drivers (around the 1:45-1:50s margin) and would be leading the Monaco GP by over ten seconds.

But as evidenced by their indecision on the team radio, it was clear Aston Martin thought the conditions would not worsen to warrant a gamble on the Intermediates.

Of course Mercedes and Alpine had the luxury of an extra 36s to Alonso to make a decision, which shows just how tight the margins are around one of the shortest tracks on the F1 calendar.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

The cautious approach worked for Alonso

The call was reminiscent of Lando Norris' ill-fated attempts to take his first F1 victory in Sochi, when he made the decision to stick to dry tyres as rain hit the track with three laps to go.

Although it was dry enough to continue on slicks when the initial rainfall started, it was only until it came down heavily did they realise their gamble did not pay off.

You could argue that Alonso should have made the switch to Intermediates regardless of the conditions, given his claims that he started on the Hard tyre anyway with an "all or nothing" mentality to go for the race win.

But if that was true and he was willing to risk a podium in his desire for an outright race win, he would have done so at the expense of Aston Martin's position in the Constructors' Championship.

Mercedes is now just one point away with their double finish in the top five, largely owing to Lance Stroll's misadventures. Alonso did his best to conserve his position with the information given to him and what he knew out on track.

If Stroll was within the top five it is likely they would have rolled the dice, but you can't fault the Spaniard for being cautious as Aston Martin begin to establish themselves as the second-best team to Red Bull.

F1 2023 Monaco Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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