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GP Week : Issue 157
Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel threw away valuable world championship points as they gambled for victory on a one-stop strategy, while race-winner Lewis Hamilton pitted twice and easily overhauled the leading duo with more than five laps left to run. The top three had all pitted within four laps of each other first time around, but it was leader Hamilton who made the brave call to come in for a second time on lap 50, with his McLaren team expecting Alonso and Vettel to follow suit. Had they done so, Alonso may even have emerged in the lead, as a slow pitstop for Hamilton coupled with the disadvantage of being on new tyres first may well have demoted him to second. Alonso stayed out and gambled that the tyres would last the distance to the flag, but as Hamilton’s pace on fresh rubber became apparent, it was clear the Spaniard would come under threat sooner rather than later. Having been passed by Hamilton on lap 64 however, Alonso’s soft tyres hit the metaphorical cliff and he plunged through the field to take the chequered flag in fifth. Vettel by then had already made a pitstop for fresh tyres, but too late to salvage a place on the podium. He pitted on lap 63 having been passed by Hamilton, whereas a pitstop on the lap following Hamilton would have placed him third at least, possibly second it he had been able to overhaul Romain Grosjean on worn tyres. Speaking after the race, Alonso defended his strategy to stay out and try to win the race, despite him losing the lead in the drivers’ championship. He insisted the lost victory was down to the tyre degradation of the Pirellis, not race strategy. “I feel good. We tried to win the race,” he said. “We made the decision to try to win the race and it didn't work out, not because of the strategy, but because of the tyre degradation. I want that to be very clear because there will be confusion tomorrow, from people who don't understand the race.” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admitted there had been a dilemma on the pitwall on strategy, before tyre degradation forced their hand on the two-stop option. “[During the race] there was a dilemma as to whether we do a one or two stop race. We were going well on the tyres and at that stage it seemed our best option was to do a one stop,” he said. “But then the tyres really started to go away from us, so we made a late call to go on to the super soft tyres, which enabled us to get back up to fourth position.” ALONSO, VETTEL LOSE OUT IN ONE-STOP GAMBLE F1 >>> CANADA 25 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: