Alonso taught Hamilton the race line in Hungarian F1 GP battle
New points leader Hamilton moved closer to Alonso on lap 55 of 70 in Budapest and former McLaren teammates battled wheel to wheel, including a brief touch, until a blockage for Alonso made it possible the seven-time champion to find a way to pass for the fourth at turn 1.
Alpine pilot Alonso felt that the pair’s 10-lap aerial combat allowed Hamilton to learn his rival’s top line in the final sector, which the Briton then adopted to quickly oust Sainz with five laps to go and for score a podium.
Alonso said, “I honestly thought I couldn’t hold it for more than a lap or two.
“But in the last two corners he seemed to be having a bit of trouble following me.
“Then it was enough to widen a gap in the straight line and defend.
“I think he learned a few different lines in the last three corners after the 10 laps behind me.
“He managed to overtake Carlos in one lap, applying these new lines. “
Rolled on hard tires, Alonso clarified that his Alpine team did not specifically ask him to delay Hamilton, using the faster middle compound, but rather knew how to defend against the Mercedes after watching “the situation” on the “bigger ones. TV screens “of the circuit.
Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport images
This, Alonso said, had been ‘gold’ for teammate Esteban Ocon to secure his first Grand Prix victory after fending off Sebastian Vettel – the Aston Martin runner-up was later disqualified for failing to provide a sample sufficient fuel.
Alonso added: “The team didn’t tell me anything.
“[But] I knew every lap I could hold it was gold for Esteban’s victory.
The Spaniard, who predicted an incident at Turn 1 after qualifying ninth behind Ocon, admitted he was “just lucky” to avoid being picked up by Lance Stroll after the Aston Martin driver raced on wet grass and eliminated Charles Leclerc before touching Daniel Ricciardo.
But Alonso made it clear that when he came out sixth after the maneuvers, after swapping his mid-race starting tires for medium Pirellis, it was “not a gift” of positions.
He said: “I was lucky not to finish my race on turn 1 like some did.
“We take this top five, it’s my best result of the year.
“It wasn’t a gift because I have to fight every round for every position.
“I’m proud of my race and the ‘driver of the day’ probably shows it. “
The two-time champion added that he had the “pace to win” at first before being “convinced of the podium”.
He said: “I had the pace to probably win the race, or that’s what it looks like when you see the layout of the race.
“[After closing the gap to Sainz], I was so convinced of the podium.
“I was doing the fastest laps in the race, and I thought I would overtake them, and try to win the race.
“It was my mind at the time.
“Then I started to realize that maybe winning the race was not possible.
“It wasn’t enough for the strength, especially when the straight-line speed was lacking.
“I started to think at that point that if I was right behind Carlos with the DRS, I could protect myself from Hamilton and finish fourth.”