Fernando Alonso can’t believe his luck after his third place in the Grand Prix of Qatar. The two-time world champion was on the podium for the first time since Hungary 2014: “I’ve waited so long for this.”
Just like Pierre Gasly, Alonso was lucky enough to have grid penalties for Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas before the start of the race. He therefore started not fifth, but third. He had a strong start on the soft tyre, but not strong enough to deal with Gasly straight away. The Spaniard had to fight hard for that second place, but he succeeded. However, he could not enjoy second place for long: Verstappen was working his way forward and Alonso did not make it too difficult for him.
Alonso was then able to hold on to third place for a long time. He had to give it up to Valtteri Bottas for a while because of the pit stop strategy, but the puncture for the Finn gave Alonso another chance to take that place back. After that it was a matter of perseverance for Alonso, although Sergio Pérez caused some concerns at the pit wall in the final phase. But after 57 laps it was time: Alonso took a podium in Formula 1 for the first time since Hungary 2014.
“Unbelievable!” beams Alonso, voted by the fans as Driver of the Day. “Seven years, but we finally did it. We came close in some races, like in Sochi. Frankly, I had hoped to be in the lead after Turn 1. I thought with the red belt I had a chance to make Lewis (Hamilton, ed.) to catch up. It got even more exciting with Checo (Perez, ed.) at the end. I am so happy for the team, also with Esteban (Ocon, red.) in fifth place.”
“We planned to make one stop, but we never knew what the wear would be like,” explains Alonso. “It was new for everyone. It was a well-run race. The pit stop was fantastic, the team was excellent and the reliability of the car is great at the moment.”
Alonso always aimed to go for podiums and wins again after two years of absence. He did not expect to be on the podium in his first year of his comeback. “I enjoy it,” laughs Alonso, who throws out a curse word of relief. “I’ve waited so long for this and I’m so happy.”