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Fernando Alonso praised his Ferrari team for a tactical call that helped him to second place in the Australian Grand Prix.
Alonso was running fourth when race engineer Andrea Stella called him in for an early second pit stop on lap 19 of the 58-lap race.
After returning to the track on fresh tires, Alonso pumped in a quick lap which allowed him to jump ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa, and set him up to pass Adrian Sutil on the track.
“It was a very good decision,” said Alonso after the race.
“There is always the flexibility to anticipate the stop, delay the stop,” he added. “How the race goes is the tire degradation that you are facing through that particular race or the traffic you are facing through that race. In my case we felt we were a lot faster than the cars in front.”
However Alonso admitted that starting his third stint early meant he had to run longer in his final stints which cost him the chance to pass Kimi Raikkonen for the win:
“For that we could not maybe fight with Kimi because it was too early also for three stops, I think lap 21. It was enough to jump three places though, Sebastian, Felipe and Sutil.
“So it was a very good decision at the time but what we didn’t know at the time was the pace of the Lotus. So they did a better job than us and maybe we did a better job than the others in the front.”
Hear more from Alonso in the video above.
Brendon Hartley says scoring a point on his Formula 1 debut would be “a dream” after being resigned to last place on the grid for the United States Grand Prix following an engine penalty.
Porsche factory driver Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso to replace Pierre Gasly for the USGP when the Frenchman was ruled out due to clashing commitments in Super Formula.
Despite having not driven an F1 car since 2012, Hartley came within one-tenth of a second of making it through to Q2 on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas, ultimately qualifying 18th.
“Obviously I’d love to be quicker but we knew we were starting at the back, so we put a lot of focus on long runs, getting the peak performance out of this Pirelli tire I didn’t get today,” Hartley told NBCSN after the race.
“In FP3 I had a good feeling. There’s a lot of quirky things to manage with these tires. Honestly I should be happy with how the weekend’s gone so far.”
The New Zealander will start last due to a 25-place grid penalty for changes made to his power unit ahead of practice on Friday, and is daring to dream of making the top 10 in his first race out of a sports car for more than five years.
“I don’t do the 24 hours completely alone!” Hartley joked. “It’s quick. It’s physical to drive. I’ll be happy to be done after an hour and a half.
“A point would be a dream starting from the back. If I can move forward and put a race together, I’ll be happy.”
The United States Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET on Sunday.