Fernando Alonso can start the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday as fifth. After qualifying, the Spanish driver was called to account by the stewards, but they ultimately decided not to impose a penalty on the Alpine driver.
The 40-year-old Alonso showed his best side again on Saturday at the Istanbul Park. While teammate Esteban Ocon died prematurely in the second qualifying part, the experienced Spaniard managed to push through to Q3. In it he dealt with, among others, the Red Bull of Sergio Perez and the McLaren of Lando Norris and clocked the sixth time, which gives him a decent fifth starting place for the race on Sunday due to the grid penalty of Lewis Hamilton.
That starting position in the top-five was briefly called into question when Alonso was called to the stewards after qualifying. The two-time world champion had set a lap time in the first qualifying part when double yellow flags were waved. Drivers are expected not to set “meaningful” lap time in such a situation, but as it was Alonso’s first qualifying lap in this case, the lap time automatically jumped into the eye of the timekeeper. After data and onboard images showed that the Spaniard had reduced enough speed at the point where the yellow flags were waved, the driver from Oviedo was quickly acquitted.
‘Maybe the best Saturday of the year’
Before his visit to the stewards, Alonso looked back with satisfaction on what may have been the best qualifying of the year: “I’m very happy, this was probably my best Saturday of the year,” said Alonso. “We come here after the best race of the year in Sochi in terms of sheer speed and here too the weather feels really good.”
Alonso showed his best in the difficult conditions, but even as the track got faster and drier, Alonso kept his Alpine up front: “In wet conditions we are always fourth, fifth, sixth. But also now in Q3, where we normally drop to ninth place or something like that, we were in good shape. With the Hamilton penalty it gives me the fifth starting position, which means I can also start on the clean side of the track on the medium compounds. So it was a good Saturday. Let’s finish this job tomorrow.”