German GP: Fernando Alonso hails best race of 2014 F1 season
|By Ben Anderson||Sunday, July 20th 2014, 16:58 GMT|
Fernando Alonso reckons his drive to fifth in the German Grand Prix was his best of the 2014 Formula 1 season.
The Ferrari driver started seventh, rose to fourth when Kevin Magnussen and Felipe Massa collided at Turn 1 after the start, and ended up fifth after battling wheel-to-wheel with the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo.
Alonso has been on the podium and finished fourth on three occasions earlier in the season, but hailed his effort in splitting the Red Bulls as his strongest effort of the year so far.
"Fifth place was absolutely the maximum today," Alonso said.
"I'm very pleased. Austria (where he also finished fifth) was probably the best race so far this season for me, now it's probably this one because it was quite complex to manage the start, the fuel, the tyres, the changes in strategy, [and] the battles.
"It was a very complex race to understand and to execute."
Alonso said Ferrari made the right call on strategy, despite finishing eight seconds behind Vettel, and revealed that a need to save fuel almost cost him fifth to Ricciardo.
"We more or less planned to do two stops at the beginning, but in the middle of the race I was asking how the tyres were for everyone else because I really felt like we were struggling to go for two [stops], so we switched to three," Alonso added.
"I'm happy with all the decisions. For the last stint I was saving fuel but I was battling with Ricciardo so I had to decide to give up the position and cross the line or fight with Ricciardo and be on the limit to cross the line.
"I decided to fight with Ricciardo to be in the position and then try to manage the fuel as well as I could.
"On the last lap I had to massively save fuel - I was in eighth gear all lap and was lucky the race wasn't 100m longer."
RICCIARDO PROUD OF RECOVERY
Ricciardo is nine points ahead of Alonso and still third in the drivers' championship, after missing out on beating the Ferrari by just 0.082 seconds.
The Australian started fifth but completed the first lap 15th after running wide to avoid the Magnussen/Massa incident.
He reckoned his recovery to sixth had "made a statement" to the rest of the paddock.
"I just got on the radio and said, 'let's just make an amazing recovery and make ourselves proud today', - and I think we did that," Ricciardo said.
"We fought hard and didn't leave anything on the table so I think we made a bit of a statement.
"These are the sort of moments and battles I thrive off, and Alonso is known to be a tough racer, so I thought who better to have a good fight with."