Fernando Alonso’s Bahrain GP was ruined by a DRS problem that caused an extra pit stop and ultimately left him without the use of the device for the majority of the race.
Alonso’s DRS flap stuck open on lap seven, forcing him to in effect make his first stop a few laps early. He could have recovered, but it happened again so he immediately came in a second time to have the flap closed once more. After that he didn’t use it for the rest of the race, with an inevitable loss of performance and ability to pass. He eventually finished eighth.
“With the DRS it remained open the first time, I informed the team that we finished the rear tyres, because at that stage I thought it was the rear tyres gone completely,” he explained. “But they told me, ‘No, no the tyres are Ok, it’s just the DRS, so we pit in this lap.’
“It was very light the rear, I had a very strange snap braking for Turn 10, but at that point I was not looking in the mirror or anything, I really thought that it was the tyres going away. It was not good. I was keeping the position because no one could overtake me on the straight, because I was keeping the DRS open all the time, but it was obviously not the way to continue.
“They fixed it, there was some kind of feeling that it stuck there, and with that manoeuvre we thought it was OK. But obviously it was not OK, on the out lap again it happened, and we had to pit again.
“If this DRS problem happened in the last part of the race maybe with another stop you lose two or three positions, but when it happens in the first part of the race, you lose 18-20 positions, and it become more difficult to fight with no DRS. We tried to save some points but it was a little bit unlucky race.”
Alonso confirmed that that issue was unprecedented at Ferrari: “It was a little bit of a strange problem, because not opening the DRS sometimes happens, in the past or in the first year, it’s hydraulic system so you need a lot power to open the DRS with the downforce in that moment. But a DRS that doesn’t close, I don’t remember this problem.”
Lack of DRS robbed him of the chance to get involved in the Hamilton/Webber/Perez fight in the closing laps.
“I was close to them and I knew that on the start/finish line no way to overtake, because with no DRS and they had the DRS all of them, because we were in a group. I had to manage different places to overtake, braking for Turn 8 and braking to Turn 10, so I was damaging a lot the tyres I think, after this long straight and start/finish line. With one or two more laps In would lose a position with Nico because he was coming very fast, and I finished the tyres.”
Asked by this writer what he thought of Sergio Perez’s driving – after a clash between the pair – Alonso smiled and said: “No comment…”
As for the result he lost today, Alonso stopped short of saying he could have won the race.
“Final result, I don’t know, I don’t have a crystal ball to see, so I guess the podium was the realistic target. Looking at Kimi being on the podium and Grosjean as well, I think we could fit in those positions, I don’t know the timed laps from Sebastian because I didn’t see, but if he was too fast today for us, maybe second was good for us, but I don’t know if we were that fast or not.”