Alonso explains “throwing me to the lions” radio rant in F1 Japanese GP

The Spaniard made it clear on several occasions during the race that he was frustrated by a lack of straightline speed, a result of aero set-up choices made by the team.

But his most noteworthy comment was a result of Aston Martin calling him in for his first pitstop earlier than he had expected.

Alonso had made a good start on the soft tyres, taking advantage of contact ahead between Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez to shoot up to sixth place.

But he was the first top-six runner to pit, coming in as early as lap 11 as the team responded to cars behind stopping.

Later on in the race, as he struggled with the lack of straightline speed, he told the team that it was “throwing me to the lions stopping that early”.

Alonso, who recovered to eighth place after a change of strategy, downplayed the suggestion that he was angry on the radio, and said any driver would be frustrated in the same situation.

“Well, not angry,” he said when asked by Autosport about the radio exchange. “I think it’s the same classic theme, the classic FOM radio, completely out of context.

“I’m not sure exactly what other drivers say when they are behind a car that is slower and on the straight, they are pulling away even when you open the DRS.

“Maybe they say, ‘I’m okay, I’m happy to stay here and to stay behind’.

“But I prefer to be motivated, to overtake them. On track, as I said, I was slower even with the DRS open.

“So I called for a different strategy, we stopped, we beat them. So that’s the way we do it. We beat everyone on track, even if the radio is the highlight.”

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images

Regarding the early stop that prompted his “lions” comment, Alonso suggested that in the end he’d recovered to where he should have been.

“I think we were fast today, faster than what we thought, in terms of pace,” he said. “I was behind the Ferraris, in front of [Lewis] Hamilton with not too much pressure. I think lap 12 we stopped. And I think it was to cover [Yuki] Tsunoda, which it was a bit of a surprise there.

“After that stop, obviously, the race is very long from that moment onwards.

“Maybe that was a mistake. But easy to say now. I think arguably the final result would be P8, after the top teams. So it didn’t change much in our race.

“I was upset because the first stop I think it was too early. I didn’t argue. I knew that we stopped too early. And it’s not a problem. Sometimes we benefit.”

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Asked if it was inevitable that after 16 races there would be times when he questioned a team decision, he said: “Sure. I think we had two hard tyres, and Ferraris they had only one.

“We tried to anticipate the first stint, the first stop, you have to force them as well to go early. So I understand the strategy. So there is nothing wrong with it.

“But when you have a very slow car on the straights and you are into traffic, it can be that there are moments of rage that you lose momentum. It happened today, but I’m perfectly fine.”

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