Formula 1

Alonso plans to stay on “dark side” after aggressive F1 sprint drive

Fernando Alonso says he plans to stay on the “dark side” for the rest of 2021 after an aggressive performance in Formula 1’s British Grand Prix sprint event.

The Alpine driver was one of just four who opted for soft tyres for the start of the 17-lap contest, and in a stunning first lap he jumped from 11th on the grid to fifth place.

He then defended hard, initially from Lando Norris, and then his team-mare Daniel Ricciardo, earning complaints about weaving from the McLaren team.

After both McLaren drivers passed him he subsequently held off Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel to secure seventh place at the flag, with a net gain of four places on his qualifying result.

At one stage his engineer passed on a warning about alleged movement in the braking area.

Asked by Autosport if he was surprised to hear such a message, Alonso suggested that he will maintain his aggressive approach.

“I was surprised,” he said. “I never moved under braking, I was moving at the beginning of the straight.

“But I don't care, to be honest. I've been on the other side for now nine races.

"So, you know, it's gonna be the same for the remainder of the year. I will be in the dark side. This time...”

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M, and Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Alonso added that "I will try" to repeat his start heroics in Sunday's British GP, while expressing enjoyment for F1's first trial of its sprint format.

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"Yeah, it was good, it was enjoyable,” he said.

“The first lap, from P11 to P5, which is obviously not a normal first lap, then we were maybe a little bit out of position because we were not the fifth quickest out there.

"And then we had to fight a little bit with the McLarens.

“Then we gave up that fight in a way, because they were too fast. And we concentrated with Sebastian, and P7 is better than P11. That is what we achieved yesterday. So we take that.

“But feet on the ground, we still have a very long race in front of us, fast cars behind us, we have the Ferrari [Carlos Sainz], we have Sebastian, we have Checo [Perez]. So the points will be hard to take anyway.”

Alonso agreed that his first lap charge had been among the best of his long career in F1.

“Yeah, I think the first lap was one of the best," he said.

"I know there are a lot of first lap performances that are understood like good ones, especially in the Renault days with a very good start.

"But this one it was not only the start into Turn 1, it was Turn 3, four, six, nine. So it was a more complete lap.”

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