Fernando Alonso called Sunday’s Formula 1 race in Germany “one of the toughest so far this season” after late fuel saving cost him a top-10 finish at Hockenheim.
Alonso entered the German Grand Prix weekend hoping to repeat his seventh-place finish in Hungary last Sunday, but could only qualify 14th on Saturday.
The Spaniard battled his way into the top 10, running ninth in the closing stages before he was forced to save fuel to ensure he made it to the end of the race.
As a result, Alonso dropped behind McLaren teammate Jenson Button, Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez in the final few laps to eventually finish 12th, marking his first non-score at Hockenheim since 2001.
“It was a very tough race, possibly one of the toughest so far this season, especially towards the end, when my tires were finished and I had to do a lot of fuel-saving,” Alonso said.
“We knew before we came here that it might be a tough weekend. Ultimately, I lost 10th position at the end of the race, so we didn’t score that last point that we were hoping for.
“But we just didn’t have the pace throughout the entire race.”
Button salvaged some points for McLaren in Germany, charging to eighth late on after overtaking the ailing Valtteri Bottas with one lap to go.
“I made a very good start and made up most of the places there,” Button said.
“After that, it was just about looking after the tires, which were degrading faster than we’d expected. We also had to do a fair amount of fuel-saving, too, particularly in the last 10 laps.
“In fact, I went off the circuit towards the end, just because I was doing so much fuel-saving that I hit the brakes and they were just stone cold. I hadn’t even been braking hard.
“At the end, I was able to pick off Valtteri, who was struggling on his tires. It feels satisfying to have beaten both Williams, but eighth was as good as it was going to get today.
“We were 20 seconds behind the car in front, and there’s still quite a bit to go before we catch those guys.”
The result saw McLaren close the gap to Toro Rosso in the constructors’ championship to just three points ahead of the summer break.
Formula 1 returns with the Belgian Grand Prix on August 28 at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.