2018 German GP: McLaren Strategy Risk Didn’t Pay Off as Alonso Had to Retire

Fernando Alonso leading Esteban Ocon
Photo: © McLaren

Fernando Alonso had to retire from the 2018 German Grand Prix, following a risky, unsuccessful strategy call by the McLaren team.

The Spaniard started from 11th place on the grid, with free tyre choice, Alonso & McLaren opted for the yellow, soft set of tyres.

Alonso maintained 11th place after the first lap, after he tried to pass one of the Force India’s into the first two corners, but was left out to dry.

Lewis Hamilton, who started down in 14th place, had no difficulties getting past Alonso, meaning he dropped down to 12th.

Daniel Ricciardo, who also started down the order in 19th place, cought up to the #1 McL33 of Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard offered a fight, but ultimately he had to give up 12th place, as he couldn’t match the pace of the Red Bull.

McLaren kept the lead McL33 of Alonso on track until lap 32, Fernando stopped for a fresh set of medium tyres and dropped down to 15th place, losing valuable track position to Esteban Ocon & Pierre Gasly.

Alonso got past Gasly on the 3rd DRS straight heading down to to the Hairpin, to regain 13th place.

But it was on lap 45, when McLaren made a risky strategy call, after spotting rain in turn 2 and turn 6, they pitted Fernando Alonso for a set of intermediate tyres, only Leclerc, Gasly and later also Verstappen gambled onto a set of wet tyres.

It became quickly clear, that this was a mistake, the rain wasn’t severe enough, to make the wet tyres work, only a few corners were damp.

When Sebastian Vettel crashed out on lap 52 in turn 13, Alonso was promoted to P17, but being 2 laps down to the leader and 1 lap down to P15, it was clear, that the race was done and dusted.

Not even the Safety Car could help Alonso, as he was still a lap down after the race restarted, having to let through the whole field, as he was constantly hit with blue flags.

McLaren retired Fernando Alonso’s car on lap 66 from 14th place to prevent further damage, also making room for a new penalty-free gearbox for the next race.

The Hungarian Grand Prix will take place in less than 7 days time, Fernando Alonso and McLaren will have high hopes for a top 10 finish, as the Hungaroring should suit the McL33 very well.

Fernando Alonso, Post-Race:

“It was a tricky race today.”

“We bet on the rain and at the first drops we pitted for Intermediate tyres, expecting that it would rain hard in the following few minutes. But, it didn’t, and we were out there on a dry track with wet tyres, so we killed them and then we had to stop again to get back onto dry tyres.”

“At that point, our race was compromised.”

“It was difficult conditions out there, but we weren’t in the points so we had to try something. Disappointingly, the bet today was the wrong one.”

“At the end of the race, the team told me to retire the car, as they probably saw something on the data.”

2018 Formula 1 German Grand Prix Race Results
1.united_kingdom Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes 
2.finland Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes4.535
3.finland Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari6.732
4.netherlands Max Verstappen Red BullTAG7.654
5.germany Nico HülkenbergRenaultRenault26.609
6.france Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari28.871
7.mexico Sergio Perez Force IndiaMercedes30.556
8.france Esteban OconForce IndiaMercedes31.750
9.sweden Marcus Ericsson SauberFerrari32.362
NCspain Fernando AlonsoMcLarenRenault2 laps