Max Verstappen makes subtle dig at Lewis Hamilton
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Double F1 world champion Fernando Alonso has struck back at Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton after team principal Toto Wolff criticised his pace at the Monaco Grand Prix. The Alpine star cited tyre management as he backed up more than half of the field on Sunday, before turning on the jets in the closing stages to seal a seventh-place finish.
Hamilton was left frustrated on Monaco’s tight, winding streets as the leading pack stretched away ahead of Alonso, who was lapping several seconds slower than those ahead of him to protect his tyres. Wolff labelled it ‘Formula 2 pace’ as the Brit was forced to settle for P8, but Alonso pointed out that Hamilton could not live with him when he got going.
“We had to do a lot of tyre management,” explained the Spaniard. “We had some concerns that the yellow tyres [medium] could grain a lot on our car, and the first 10 or 15 laps I took care of the tyres a lot.
“After that I pushed again when they told me Esteban [Ocon] had to make a five-second gap, but at that point Hamilton didn’t want to push, he held Esteban at the back – yeah, disappointing.”
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While Ocon’s five-second time penalty for an early clash with Hamilton meant he left Monaco with no additional points on the board, Alonso’s six-point haul was his biggest of the season so far. Alpine fans feel there is plenty more to come from the 40-year-old, who trails miles behind Ocon after seven races.
As for Hamilton, he was beaten by George Russell for the sixth consecutive Grand Prix. Indeed, the only triumph over his new team-mate came in the season’s Bahrain curtain-raiser as Russell continues to defy expectations and deliver stronger pace.
That has opened up a 34-point gap between the pair in the Drivers’ Championship as Russell remains ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who has had the luxury of a much faster car this year. Indeed, the youngster is the only driver in the entire field to have finished in the top five of every Grand Prix in 2022.
After taking P5 in Monaco, the former Williams star saw plenty of reasons to stay optimistic. “There were definitely a lot of positives from that race,” he said. “I think on the hard tyre before the second red flag, we were the quickest car on track and that was a pretty fun stint. It felt pretty dicey from within the car for Monaco in damp conditions!
“It was tough. I think it was a bit frustrating, from the beginning when we kept having the delays, but fair play to the FIA because I think they saw the weather coming in and it literally was undrivable conditions when we attempted it on the first occasion.
“And then the second red flag, track drying up, one dry line, it’s never easy. Especially on a track like this. But we made it – P5, and more to come next time I think.”
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