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A third-place finish at today’s British Grand Prix – one that enabled him to chop 15 points from his deficit to championship leader Sebastian Vettel – was not enough to assuage the concerns of Fernando Alonso, who remained disturbed about Ferrari’s lack of overall pace throughout the weekend.
“Mixed feelings, to be honest – [I’m] happy for the points, [and] we’ve reduced the gap a little bit in this race, but the pace we saw this weekend is not good enough,” said Alonso, who moved within 21 points of Vettel after the German retired due to a Lap 41 gearbox failure.
“There were some other Sundays that we lost some points and maybe I was more optimistic. Today, we recovered some points but we know there is a lot of work to do. But I trust the team – we are united, we have a difficult weekend, we move on, and now we think of the next one.”
When the safety car went off following Vettel’s incident, Alonso began his charge to the front of the field in the closing laps. He peeled off seventh from Jenson Button at Lap 46, then sixth from Daniel Ricciardo just two laps later. But his most breathtaking moves were still to come as he passed Adrian Sutil for fourth and then dusted Kimi Raikkonen going into Stowe on Lap 50, capping an impressive rally to the podium.
Nonetheless, Alonso called himself and his race “lucky” to come out the way they did, noting near-disasters with Sergio Perez after his explosive tire failure, as well as with Mark Webber and Romain Grosjean – both of whom he narrowly missed colliding with at the start.
“I just need to be very thankful for the team, for the luck and try to improve for next weekend,” the Spaniard said.
Valtteri Bottas nipped Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Silverstone qualifying Saturday to maintain the team’s hammerlock on F1 results this season while Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise in third.
Hulkenberg is filling in for Sergio Perez for the second consecutive race while the Racing Point driver recovers from coronavirus.
It’s the best F1 start since 2016 for Hulkenberg, who was left without a full-time ride after the 2019 season. He finished 20th at Silverstone last week when an engine problem on the grid prevented him ftaking the green.
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“The last seven to eight days have been crazy,” Hulkenberg said after qualifying. “This weekend I felt much better prepared. Q3 was just head down, full beans, and give it whatever I had.
“I’m a bit surprised to be standing here, but there’s a big smile on my face.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified fourth and will be among the field trying to derail the Mercedes duo that has won the first four races of an F1 season delayed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Feels good,” Bottas said after nipping Hamilton by a few hundredths of a second on his final lap for his 13th career pole position. ” I just love qualifying especially, when it goes well. Proud to drive this car. The race pace is there, so our first job is to get a good start off the line tomorrow and go from there.”
The impressive lap came two days after Bottas, who won the season opener in Austria, announced a one-year contract extension with the team.
Mercedes also is set to begin negotiating a new deal with Hamilton, who has won the past three races in F1 but was disappointed Saturday.
“Valtteri did a great job, but for me, it wasn’t a perfect last lap,” he said. “I don’t think many teams will be doing a one-stop race tomorrow so let’s wait and see how things turn out.”