Fernando Alonso believes that he would have had the pace to fight for victory in the Malaysian GP, had he not been an early retirement.
He said that the opposition was much closer than it had been in the first race in Australia.
“I think today we had a good car, and I don’t think we were too far from the Red Bull pace, especially in the race,” he said on Sunday evening. “They didn’t have the easiest weekend in Malaysia. In Australia they were very strong, first and second in all practice, first and second in qualifying, and they were very good and fast. Also Lotus was very consistent in Australia, and we knew that.
“But in Malaysia no one was especially quick. I think we could really fight for a win, why not, with the Red Bulls. But obviously from the television it’s difficult to know.”
Alonso says that the team still needs to find some one lap pace in the dry: “We know that we miss some performance from the car. Q2, that is more representative one, because in Q3 we had rain – and in Q3 in Australia was with dry tyres but a wet track, so we didn’t have normal Q3s so far. So the last reference was Q2 here, and we were six-tenths off Rosberg.
“So for sure we are still missing some pace, and in China and Bahrain we will try to reduce this gap. We have three weeks now to work in the factory and bring some parts. Everyone will do it but hopefully we can take a bigger step than the others.”
Meanwhile Alonso rued the bad luck that saw his front wing get trapped under the car and send him off the road at the start of the second lap. He said it was easy to suggest that the decision not to pit was wrong, although his assertion that the wing began to drop off just before the pit entry would appear to have been a little wide of the mark, given that it was clearly dragging along the ground almost immediately after the contact with Sebastian Vettel.
“We touched with the front wing the car of Sebastian. It was a very, very small touch, but enough to damage the front wing a lot. It was extremely bad luck in my opinion, that incident. And then we were constantly talking on the radio on the first lap.
“The car felt OK, more or less, in the first two sectors, and from the television the team saw damage on the front wing, but we knew that on lap three or lap four we’d switch to dry tyres, so if we make it to that lap we’d save 20 seconds or maybe 30 seconds in the race. So at that point we said at the moment maybe everything looks OK, you don’t have the front wing performance that you should expect, but we see the next lap how it develops, this problem, and maybe we’ll make a decision.
“Unfortunately in the back straight the front wing dropped and we started to see some sparks from the floor and more damage, and at that point we were five seconds before the pit entry and we didn’t make it, and then on the next straight the wing fall and it was underneath the car and it was not possible to turn. So a lot of circumstances went in the wrong way, maybe the decisions can be wrong or good, it’s very easy afterwards to see what is the best thing to do.
“But I think it was extremely unlucky combination of things that happened. So many crashes in Australia in Q1, we saw people going off in the parade laps here, and nothing happened. We touched one car at 10km/h and we didn’t even have the luck to lose the front wing, the wing stayed half just to make us crash after one lap. This is the fact. It can be a wrong decision or good decision, you never know until afterwards, but the unlucky factor is there for sure.
“Looking now, after the incident, for sure it was the wrong decision to make. But at that point it was risky, but it was maybe the right thing to do. Who knows?
“If this unlucky combination didn’t happen, and we stopped on lap 3 and we changed the tyres and the nose and we win the race here, we were heroes.”