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GP Week : Issue 179
When Fernando Alonso was fighting for the 2012 drivers’ title in a less competitive car, his championship campaign was strengthened by a seemingly endless run of points finishes brought to a halt only by Romain Grosjean’s chaotic Spa start. This year, the Ferrari driver has collected his first DNF of the season in only the second race, crashing out of the Malaysian Grand Prix after the team elected to keep their driver out on track after first lap contact led to a damaged front wing. When that front wing fell off on the second lap, Alonso lost all front-end grip and ending up beached in the gravel. “The contact between Alonso and Vettel at the second corner was an unfortunate episode: we knew the front wing was damaged but the car still seemed to be competitive and we decided to run the risk of staying out,” Pat Fry explained after the race. “We definitely could have played safe and called him in, but that way we would have ended up behind everyone on rain tyres and would have lost even more ground with the next stop to fit dry tyres. With hindsight, we can say the risk wasn’t worthwhile.” Speaking to the media after the race, Alonso acknowledged that Sunday’s retirement would make his 2013 championship campaign rather more complicated – he now sits in sixth place in the drivers’ standings, four points behind teammate Felipe Massa and 22 points shy of Sebastian Vettel – but the Spanish driver was rather more sanguine about the day’s results than his hot-headed reputation would lead one to expect. “Today we had a good car and I don't think we were too far from Red Bull pace in the race,” Alonso told Autosport. “They didn't have all the aces this weekend. No one was especially quick, so I think we could really have fought for the win. We are still missing some pace, but we have three weeks now to work and bring some new parts. Everyone will do it, but hopefully we can take a bigger step than the others. “It was a very, very small touch, but enough to damage the front wing a lot,” he added. “It was extremely bad luck in my opinion. We were constantly talking on the radio on the first lap. The car was behaving more or less well in the first two sectors. From the television the team saw damage, but we knew on lap three or four we would switch to dry tyres and if we could make it to then we could save 20-30 seconds in the race. To stop on lap one and lap three for the tyres is a little bit too much of a penalty. “They said I didn't have the front wing performance I should expect, but to see how the problem was going to develop on the next lap. Unfortunately on the back straight the front wing dropped. At that point we were five seconds before the pit entry and we didn't make it. Looking now, after the incident, it was the wrong decision, but I think it was extremely unlucky - a combination of things that happened today. It can be the wrong decision or a good decision; you never know until you see after wards.” Alonso’s WDC chances on back foot already F1 >>> MALAYSIA 24 GPWEEK.com // 24 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: