Alpine: Alonso Qatar F1 podium "a question of a few corners"

Alpine Formula 1 director Marcin Budkowski admitted Fernando Alonso's one-stop run to third at the Qatar Grand Prix was "a question of a few corners whether we would make it or not."

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The inaugural Qatar Grand Prix proved to be a significant challenge for the Pirelli tyres due to a combination of high-speed corners and aggressive kerbs at the Losail International Circuit.

During Sunday's race, Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas, McLaren driver Lando Norris and both Williams cars of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi all suffered left-front tyre failures as they attempted what Pirelli called a "marginal" one-stop strategy.

After the race, Pirelli vowed to launch an investigation into the four tyre failures, suggesting they "could be the result of very high wear combined with high-speed impacts against kerbs that are very aggressive at Losail."

Alpine's executive director Budkowski admitted that his team was also concerned about whether Alonso's left-front tyre would hold amid high degradation.

Alonso and teammate Esteban Ocon both opted for a one-stop strategy on their runs to third and fifth, Alpine's best result since winning the Hungarian Grand Prix before the summer break.

The team realised there was no way back once its drivers had committed to a one-stopper and it therefore instructed them early on to stay off the kerbs and manage the tyres.

But that cautious approach also put Alonso and Ocon under threat from Red Bull's two-stopping Sergio Perez. The Mexican managed to pass Ocon for fourth but finished 2.8 seconds shy of Alonso, having started the final tour five seconds behind.

"Everybody really worked hard to make that tyre last until the last few laps, so yeah, it was stressful," Budkowski said.

"We knew if we stopped we wouldn't get anything. We managed these tyres quite early, but also we understood that avoiding the kerbs was key and we instructed our drivers to do that.

"On the last lap I saw all the mechanics jumping on the grid, I was like 'no, no, no, there is a few more corners left'. Just because we... honestly it was a question of a few corners whether we would make it or not."

Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Alpine celebrate with the team

Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Alpine celebrate with the team

Photo by: Alpine

Budkowski added that he wasn't worried from a safety point of view given that it was only the left-front tyre that was critical.

"Look, there was no safety concern. If you puncture the front tyre, you just lose the front end and you slide," he explained.

"The rear tyre is a bit different because if you lose a rear tyre, you might spin and go off track.

"We were confident we're not putting anyone at risk there but obviously, we're putting our race and our points at risk."

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Alonso, who secured his first podium since 2014, said he wasn't thinking about potential failures from the cockpit, and thought he still had a bit of extra margin.

"I don't know, I don't think it was too bad for us," he said.

"It seems that our car is kind on tyres. We did a one-stop also in Brazil last week and I think we had some margin to keep pushing a little bit more, but you never know."

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