Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first genuinely good race of the 2011 season in Turkey, running strongly throughout the race and nearly splitting the supposedly unbeatable Red Bulls. He eventually came home third, no doubt disappointed to have missed out second, but nevertheless enjoying by far his best race of 2011. Could it already be too little too late for a title bid?
The key was the start, something Alonso has got wrong at every race this season. For once he didn’t drop a single position, holding his fifth place gridslot and then taking advantage of Lewis Hamilton running wide to snatch fourth.
He then passed Rosberg for third before running close to the pace of the leading Red Bulls. Upping his speed after that he closed down and passed Webber for second, slowly edging away from the Aussie whilst matching the lap times of leader Vettel.
By the final stint Alonso was still splitting the Red Bulls but Webber had rediscovered his speed and cruised up on the Spaniard’s rear. That fight between the two was a highlight in itself, as both men drove hard and fair for second position that Webber eventually edged.
But of course we knew this was coming: here’s what we reported on Fernando’s pre-Turkey horoscope last week:
Fernando Alonso – Leo: “You have every reasons to look forward to the future with a smile on your face. It’s time to start living instead of existing.”
Badger’s Interpretation: Cheer up, Fernando, the car’s going to come good eventually! So do the stars suggest Turkey will be the race where Alonso finally kick-starts his 2011 title bid? A podium could well be in the offing.
On the downside he couldn’t quite beat the Red Bulls. On a positive not he finished a full half a minute clear of fourth place Hamilton, took his team’s first podium of the season and didn’t put a foot wrong.
And he ran at Red Bull pace, despite his car not having the same outright speed. Alonso could almost be described a night and day driver: sometimes you wonder just how he’s a double world champion, but on other occasions it’s made perfectly clear, such is his ability to maximise the performance of his machine. Today was the latter.