In a candid admission, Fernando Alonso revealed he hesitated while considering the possibility of overtaking Red Bull racer and current Formula One championship leader, Max Verstappen, during the closing rounds of the Dutch Grand Prix. His rationale behind the decision was intriguing; he expressed doubts about the crowd’s reaction had he managed to surpass the home favorite.
Alonso, who drove for Aston Martin, emerged second in this rain-hampered, periodically red-flagged race, following Verstappen. The latter brilliantly clinched the top spot, marking his hat trick of victories at Zandvoort. Importantly, he is also in the midst of an impressive nine-win streak.
“This is a very special racetrack, with all the fans and the energy going on, so you feel always very focused,” the Spaniard iterated during a press interaction. Elaborating on his cautious stance he said, “I did think about trying a move in the last restart but then I thought maybe I cannot exit the circuit so I stayed calm in second.”
The event witnessed an overflowing enclosure with 105,000 spectators on the concluding day and an aggregate of 305,000 attendees over the three-day course. The Grand Prix has largely transformed into a haven for fans of Verstappen who revel in their vibrant orange apparel as they enthusiastically root for their star all through the weekend.
Despite facing considerable challenges including intermittent rainstorms, Verstappen impeccably held his ground, reinforcing the significance of staying error-free in such complex conditions.
The two-time world champion Alonso had a promising start, commencing fifth on the grid. He made his presence felt by swiftly surpassing Mercedes‘ George Russell and Williams‘ Alex Albon with an audacious inside move in the third corner.
“It was one of those Sundays where you feel connected with the car, you feel in sync with the car, and everything you do, the car is just answering perfectly,” Alonso noted, reflecting on his seamless performance.
Until recently, he’d secured six podium finishes in the initial eight races of the season, but Aston Martin seemed to have misplaced their winning strategy in the past four races, with Alonso’s position not surpassing fifth.
However, the last Sunday was reminiscent of Aston Martin’s impeccable early season prowess. Alonso’s extensive experience undoubtedly came to the fore as he wisely put to use a lesson learnt earlier in the race weekend.
He elucidated, “It was wet (in practice) and in one of the out-laps I let a few cars go on the normal racing line and I found a lot of grip on the inside casually, by just letting people go,”. “So, I kept in my head, all the time, all the weekend, in case it was wet. I was ready to try again…I thought about the inside line, it could work and we overtook those two cars.”
He ended in a half-jocund tone, “Definitely, that should be the overtake of the month, again. I hope.”