Fernando Alonso has detailed exactly how Alpine have adapted the A521 car to suit him over the course of the season – and given a fascinating insight into his driving style in the process.
The two-time champion has scored 38 points in the first half of the season, putting him just 12 off his 2018 season total with McLaren. Even though he’s on a run of six consecutive points scores, the first five races of the season weren’t so easy for Alonso (with P17 in Spain and P13 in Monaco), and he has explained why he needed time to get up to speed after two years out of F1.
“I said at the beginning that I would need three or four races in order to be at the level of the car. In the end, they were more, six or seven, but now I am more comfortable in the car,” he said in an interview with Spanish outlet SoyMotor.com.
“Some things have helped me… not only in terms of racing but also the things that happen outside of the car.” he continued. “The front tyres, which this year are more delicate… And we’ve changed a few things in the car to adapt it to my driving style, from the power steering to the feeling you get from the steering wheel or the level of grip it transmits you.
“Some small adjustments in the brake balance and the engine brake… Every driver has their own set-up when it comes to adjusting the car and getting the most out of it has taken us the time that I more or less expected.”
Power steering, and tactile feedback in particular, is something that Alonso said is crucial to his pace – so much so that he said a lack of feedback leaves him “defenceless”.
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“Because of my driving style, I’ve always done an aggressive movement of the steering wheel in the middle of the corner, and from then on I just feel the front tyres. If the steering wheel gets softer, it means they’re losing grip,” he explained.
“If it gets harder, then they have too much grip and you can expect the rear of the car to move at some point in time. I normally feel everything with my hands and the front end of the car. If they take this out of me, I am dead.
“Other drivers are not, because they feel the car with the body or they do different things, but I am defenceless if they take the front tyres out of me. Then I can’t predict [the car]. We’ve worked on that just to have a lot of feeling in the steering wheel.”
Now 40 and still racing 20 years after his F1 debut, Alonso has showed no signs of slowing down – and his six-race points-scoring run is currently the longest running streak on the grid.