Alonso reveals puncture scare

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Fernando Alonso’s victory in the Spanish Grand Prix was put in jeopardy by a late problem with one of his tires.

Alonso only revealed the problem after winning the race. It occurred during his fourth stint when he was running on medium tires and forced the team to change their strategy plan.

“We had to bring forward the final stop because of a slow puncture which meant the left rear tire was losing pressure in the final part of the lap,” said Alonso. “But fortunately, that had no effect on the final outcome.”

The Ferrari driver was under pressure from Kimi Raikkonen at the time but still finished over nine seconds clear of the Lotus. He said the tire failure was the only problem in an otherwise perfect race: “After a far from easy qualifying, everything went perfectly, the start, the strategy, pit stops, tire management.”

Alonso was one of several drivers to experience tire problems during the race weekend. Jean-Eric Vergne suffered a puncture during the race, though it occurred after contact with Nico Hulkenberg in the pits.

Like Alonso, Paul di Resta also had a left rear tire fail during practice, which has led Pirelli to consider revising the structure of their tires.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.