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.

F1 2017 driver review: Esteban Ocon

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Esteban Ocon

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 31
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P5 (Spain, Mexico)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 87
Championship Position: 8th

A shining star in Mercedes’ junior programme, Esteban Ocon vaulted fellow youngster Pascal Wehrlein in the pecking order to secure a seat at Force India for 2017 – and boy, did he live up to the hype.

Ocon arrived at Force India with half a season of racing under his belt after his outings with Manor late in 2016, but wasted little time in settling in, scoring points on debut in Australia after winning a thrilling three-way fight with Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso.

The Frenchman spent much of the year close to teammate Sergio Perez – even if things did get a little too close in Canada, Baku and, finally, Spa, prompting the team to introduce team orders – and impressed the entire paddock with his displays.

While no podium was forthcoming, Ocon was often leading the midfield fight, enjoying three straight finishes ahead of Perez from Japan to Mexico. Given how well Perez is rated on-track in the paddock, to have convincingly beaten him in such fashion did a lot for Ocon’s reputation.

The term ‘Oconsistency’ also came into F1’s dictionary as he set a new record for consecutive finishes from his first race, with his retirement in Brazil ending the streak at 27 grands prix. It was also his first retirement in a single-seater race since the 2014 Macau Grand Prix.

The highlight moment arguably came at Monza, though, when Ocon stuck his Force India third on the grid through torrential rain in qualifying. While he would drop to P6 at the checkered flag, the display nevertheless cemented his place as one of F1’s rising stars.

Mercedes rates Ocon very highly, and with Valtteri Bottas’ future beyond 2018 already being questioned by the paddock, a good season could see the youngster move on up to the top table of F1 for 2019. His progression in the next 12 months will be fascinating to keep track of.

Season High: Lining up P3 on the grid at Monza after a rainy qualifying.

Season Low: Clashing with Perez in Baku, costing Force India a possible podium.