Alonso P3 for the 3rd time: Could win 33 be next?
Back in ’07, rookie Lewis Hamilton joined F1 in a championship caliber car, and success was immediate. With so many great drivers dreaming of F1, rookies must show they can handle the pressure at a small team first, before getting called up to a top team; Fernando at Minardi, Kimi at Sauber, Ricciardo at HRT. Hamilton never knew the struggle.
Perhaps that’s what is so satisfying about watching Hamilton and Mercedes fail for the past two seasons. It is now obvious to all that Lewis wasn’t the best driver. He was simply in a superior car.
Mercedes wants us to believe that their 2023 car cannot compete with the dominant Red Bull. They’re creating a narrative, a story arc. Redemption. Like Rocky after the first fight with Clubber Lang. The former champs are down, but will miraculously rise to glory.
Except at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, Lewis was outqualified by teammate George Russel. That’s messing with the script. How could the all-time biggest winner in F1 be getting beat by Russel? Good thing Russel’s engine caught fire, or Mercedes might have to re-write the script.
The chaos down under continued with several red flag periods disrupting the race. Alex Albon in the lowly Williams was running in the Top 10 and was on for points, before losing the car in spectacular fashion. The Alpine duo of Ocon and Gasly were also running strong in their pink machines, but heart-breaking collision between teammates destroyed all their hard work. For driver’s battling in the midfield, even points are a huge accomplishment.
Which takes us to final restart, and the story of Fernando Alonso.
With a handful of laps remaining in the Grand Prix, the order was Verstappen, followed by Hamilton and Alonso. A red flag stoppage brought all the cars back to the pitlane, followed by a standing re-start. At Turn 1, Spaniard Carlos Sains in the Ferrari contcted Alonso’s car, sending the Aston Martin into a spin. Alonso tumbled down the order, his solid race undone in a heartbeat.
With the cars bunched up late in the race, multiple collisions occurred, and debris was scattered around the track. Another red flag. After a lengthy clean up, race officials decided that the order of the cars would be restored to the positions of the previous restart, giving Alonso his P3 back.
Some have criticized race officials for unfairly assisting Alonso. Two weeks ago, a late-race penalty to Alonso was subsequently overturned, restoring his podium finish. This time, the order of the cars was changed to the benefit of Fernando. This is complete nonsense. If there was ever a case of a driver being unfairly helped, just look back at Hamilton being lifted out of the gravel at the 2007 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. The FIA tried to hand Hamilton a championship in ’07. Alonso has never been so fortunate.
Veteran racer Fernando Alonso is having a late-career renaissance. He struggled in the back marker Minardi team, ascended to glory with the factory Renault ride, nearly won the championship again in an underperforming Ferrari, before enduring the horrors of the Honda GP2 engine at McLaren.
The tale of 2023 is Alonso’s redemption arc, not Hamilton’s. The heroic racer returns to the front of the grid. Perhaps that’s what’s so satisfying. While phony baloney Mercedes try to manufacture a story about Hamilton as the returning champion, the public knows that Alonso is the real deal. Hopefully, the racing gods grant win number 33 to Alonso.