Fernando Alonso has completed a magnificent comeback in Austria, to score McLaren’s first points since the Spanish Grand Prix.
Three hours prior to the race it was annouced that Alonso would start from the pitlane, after the McLaren team changed his McL33’s MGU-K and ultimately what caused the penalty, a new front-wing, which was delivered from Woking over night to Spielberg, as Stoffel Vandoorne damaged all previous current spec wings, Alonso had to use a 2017 configuration wing.
Team mate Stoffel Vandoorne collided with Pierre Gasly, going into the 2nd corner on the first lap, Alonso overtook the slow McL33 of Vandoorne on the 3rd DRS zone straight, Fernando was up into 19th.
Charles Leclerc made a mistake, going off into a gravel trap, which granted Fernando Alonso 18th place, but Alonso was stuck behind Brendon Hartley, unable to overtake.
The Sauber quickly caught the McLaren, and with the helping hand of DRS eventually overtaking the slower McLaren.
With Nico Hülkenberg and Valtteri Bottas retiring from the race, Alonso jumped into 17th place, and with the Virtual Safety Car deployed after Bottas’ retirement, the McLaren team used this opportunity to their advantage, pitting the one stopping Alonso onto a fresh set of soft tyres.
Sergei Sirotkin pitted on lap 25, meaning Alonso gained another place, being now up in 16th place.
Carlos Sainz pitted for a 2nd time, dropping him to 17th place, and with Fernando Alonso overtaking Lance Stroll on the 3rd DRS straight on lap 37, the Spaniard was up to 14th place.
Marcus Ericsson pitted on lap 47, that promoted Fernando Alonso into 13th place.
As Daniel Ricciardo retired and Brendon Hartley pitted, Alonso was up to 11th place, just one place off a points paying position.
Fernando overtook Charles Leclerc in the same place as Lance Stroll, promoting him into 10th place. But as Lewis Hamilton retired from the race, 10th place became 9th for Alonso.
With only 6 laps left, Fernando Alonso overtook the Honda powered Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly for 8th place, completing his incredible chargeback through the field, earning 4 well deserved points.
Fernando Alonso, Post-Race:
“I’m very happy – we didn’t expect points today, so that was a very nice surprise.”
“It was a strange race. I started from the pit-lane, was then running 19th after the first laps, then I got stuck behind a group of cars and wasn’t able to run at my proper pace. Also, the front wing we ran was last year’s, so we didn’t know exactly how it would behave with the rest of the aero package.”
“The race was quite chaotic: the hot track temperatures caused a lot of blistering for everybody, but I was able to take care of them and capitalise on that.”
“The points were a nice reward, but we need to keep improving. The next race is our home grand prix and we need to be more competitive there.”