Fernando Alonso facing grid penalty

Alpine driver Fernando Alonso ended FP1 in first before finishing seventh in FP2 at the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso bounced back from his Singapore Grand Prix agony in the best way possible on the opening day of the treacherously wet Japanese Grand Prix, by ending FP1 in first.

Singapore was a weekend to forget for Alpine in general, as both Alonso and Esteban Ocon retired following apparent engine failures, something the Spaniard who retired from P6 deemed as “unacceptable”.

The double DNF saw Alpine fall behind McLaren in the battle for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, after the British side finished fourth and fifth at the Marina Bay Circuit.

Double engine failures do seem to have caused an issue for Alpine, who weren’t initially planning on fitting another new power unit this season, something which now looks imminent.

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“I don’t rule out a power unit change for him [Alonso] but at the moment we don’t have one more planned,” Alpine’s sporting director Alan Permane said before the team’s double DNF.

It appears that any potential power unit change will come later in the season rather than at this weekend’s Japanese GP, something which is understandable given how challenging overtaking is at Suzuka.

Speaking prior to ending a drenched FP1 brilliantly in P1 and FP2 in P7, the 41-year-old revealed that a new engine will most likely be needed before the end of the year and that it will have to happen “soon”, hinting at a possible grid penalty at the upcoming United States Grand Prix.

“Yeah, I mean, we are maybe not completely safe until the end of the year,” Alonso told reporters during the Japanese GP press conference.

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“So it is possible we may have to introduce a power unit. I don’t think it will be this weekend but…soon.”

Alonso’s position in the Drivers’ Championship really doesn’t reflect how strong a season the Spaniard has had, which has been ridiculed by reliability problems.

The Alpine driver believes he has lost 60 points in 2022 through unnecessary retirements, something that can’t be argued with.

The 2005 and 2006 World Champion has retired from the last two races, which ended his 10-race streak of finishing in the points.

His issues at Singapore and Monza have been identified as “different”, with the veteran driver who won the Japanese GP in 2006 and 2008 admitting that the battle with McLaren will go all the way “until Abu Dhabi”.

“No, it was different issues,” Alonso revealed.

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“We have been hit quite badly about reliability this year. We lost a lot of points.

“Unfortunately, now we are in this battle with McLaren, a few points behind, and hopefully we can have a normal five races now and finish on a high. But yeah, [reliability] has been our weakest point this year.

“I think Singapore was standing out because it was a big loss in points there. But I think it will be very, very tight until Abu Dhabi.”