Lotus ambassador Jean Alesi shares his thoughts on the British Grand Prix…
That was a pretty exciting British Grand Prix, packed with incidents. What stood out for you?
The mixed weather conditions at the start were an absolute treat. Part of the track was dry, part of it very wet, and these circumstances require great skill. The cream rises to the top, and I shall remember this race for a long time because of Fernando Alonso’s performance. Today was a great comeback from Ferrari. From a driver’s perspective seeing Fernando fight the car and the conditions on every lap and take this inspired win has made this, for me, one of the best British Grand Prix I’ve seen.
Nick Heidfeld drove from 16th to eighth bringing in four points, which was quite impressive, what do you think of the team’s performance this weekend?
I think Nick did really well, he drove a great race. Qualifying wasn’t the best for team, in fact I think Eric [Boullier] felt it was the team’s worst but both drivers’ determined attitudes shone through during the race. The team’s strategy for Nick worked out well for him – he was the first to pit and tyre change, then he drove well and took care of his tyres.
Overall, it was a bit of a disappointing performance from Lotus Renault GP. Do you know why? Have they been affected by the exhaust-blowing clampdown?
I would say so, yes, because the R31 was designed with an exhaust blown diffuser from the start. We were the first to use the system, and since then everyone copied it. The rule change makes the entire philosophy of this car different. It’s, like, tear it up and start again. I think it’s unfair to change the rules like this halfway through the year. The FIA should decide on a bunch of regulations for the year and then stick to them.
Would Fernando Alonso have won had Sebastian Vettel not had his pitstop problem?
I think probably not, no, but that shouldn’t detract from Fernando’s performance. Pitstops are part of the game where you can win it and lose it. Red Bull Racing had a huge advantage in the first half of the year; no one could get near that car, but now this advantage is beginning to fade. The championship came alive a little bit today. If the same driver wins every race it’s not interesting for the fans. If you know who’s going to win you’re not going to watch, you’re going to go to the beach! That said, Red Bull is still the team to beat. It’s just they’re no longer unbeatable, and this is good news.
There was a bit of wheel and wing bashing at the end there between Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton. Did you think both drivers drove fairly?
Yeah, because when it’s the last five laps I think the gloves should come off. I’m not saying everything should be allowed, but you need to fight and I think both drivers did a good job. They didn’t destroy their cars, it wasn’t dangerous, but they both really wanted those points. That’s what they’re paid to do. The stakes are high, and a bit of wheel-bashing is okay by me.
Mark Webber didn’t make it past his team-mate, Vettel, but he tried and in doing so ignored team orders. Were Red Bull right to ask him to hold station, and do you respect Mark for ignoring the order and fighting?
Well, I am not inside that team and I think you need to understand everything before commenting. What I will say is that a driver should always respect his team. But, I think that it’s too early in the championship to make team orders. That can’t have been nice for Mark.