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F1 2016 Driver Review: Fernando Alonso

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Fernando Alonso

Team: McLaren Honda
Car No.: 14
Races: 20
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: 5th (Monaco, USA)
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 54
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 10th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Fernando Alonso pulled his usual trick of far outstripping the capabilities of his car in 2016. The McLaren-Honda MP4-31 was not the pig that the 2015 runner was, but Alonso still should not have finished in the top 10 in the drivers’ championship with it. It wasn’t that good.

But, naturally, Alonso did it anyway. He dragged the car kicking and screaming up the grid, scoring points on a regular basis and taking the fight to the Mercedes-powered Force India and Williams teams. Given he started the year with a terrifying crash that forced him to miss a race through injury, his feats are all the more impressive.

Alonso’s finest hour came in Monaco when, in drying conditions, he was able to keep his McLaren ahead of Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg for the entire race en route to fifth place. It was a result that would have been unthinkable 12 months prior.

Alonso was a thorn in the side of the Williams and Force India drivers in their battle, picking up a set of P7 results in the second half of the year, and even finishing fifth in Austin after a late-race bump with Felipe Massa. The Spaniard’s aggressive style continues to delight us all.

Quite what 2017 holds for McLaren remains unclear, but you would imagine that if the car is even half-decent, Alonso will be able to work wonders with it.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

The leap from 11 points and 17th place in the championship to 54 and 10th in one year spoke volumes about how much of a regulation badass Fernando Alonso is and continues to be. The Spaniard had no business finishing this high in points considering the McLaren Honda, while much better than the nightmare that was 2015, was still only sixth or seventh best chassis in the field.

Yet in nearly every instance, the two-time World Champion seized his chances when they were there and ultimately left no more than maybe five or six extra points on the table. Two fifth-place finishes, a sixth and four sevenths made for a good haul.

The hope is that with the new regulations next year, McLaren Honda can be even better. Alonso’s efforts and patience the last two years deserve a return to a podium and race-winning contender of a car. Maybe then, the #PlacesAlonsoWouldRatherBe meme will finally have run its course and Alonso’s place as one of this generation’s greatest drivers will finally come back into full view.

Alexander Rossi’s Grand Prix of Alabama gamble fails to pay off

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Alexander Rossi bobbled for the first time in 2018 with an 11th-place finish in the Honda IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

And to add insult to injury, Rossi also lost the points lead as a result.

Rossi got off to about as great a start to the season as possible. He finished third at St. Petersburg and sat third in the standings. He finished third again at Phoenix and climbed to second in the points.

Rossi won the Long Beach Grand Prix after starting from the pole and leading 71 laps. That put him at the top of the standings after three races.

Then, as quickly as he climbed to the top, he got knocked down a spot after finishing off the podium for the first time in 2018.

Rossi not only missed the podium, he finished outside the top 10.

“We didn’t get the result that we wanted,” Rossi said after the race. “That remains a mystery. But at the end of the day it was about survival. We couldn’t make the tires last; we couldn’t really get a great fuel number.”

The biggest negative was the one factor that was mostly out of his control. Rossi gambled that he was facing only a brief shower when rain began to fall with about 15 minutes remaining. He was wrong.

“We tried to be pretty aggressive on the dry tires and stay out and survive the rain, hoping it would dry out,” Rossi said. “And it didn’t really work.

“Sometimes you’ll have those days.”