Fernando Alonso has jokingly suggested he could consider starting Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the pitlane to have a better chance of becoming the inaugural winner of F1’s new ‘Overtaking King’ award.
Alonso and fellow former world champions Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen are all at the top of the leaderboard, with Aston Martin's Vettel on 127 passes, Alpine's Alonso 125 and Alfa Romeo's Raikkonen 121.
Vettel gained the lead thanks to a 12-pass haul last time out in Saudi Arabia, leaving Spaniard Alonso needing three passes more than his former rival to become the winner – although what the prize will be, if anything, remains a mystery.
Both drivers failed to advance to Q3 having been caught up in traffic during a hectic second qualifying session, with Vettel starting behind the Alpine.
When reminded ahead of the weekend that Vettel is now two overtakes ahead, Alonso responded: “I saw that this morning so yeah, that’s tempting, even to start from the pitlane or something, to make more passes. Let’s see!”
Alonso confidence on a high
Alonso returned to F1 this season having had two years away and after a stuttering start he has become increasingly comfortable in the car, finally returning to the podium two races ago with a third-place finish at the Qatar Grand Prix.
The last race, in Saudi Arabia, saw him end down in 13th, his equal third-worst finish of the year having been disadvantaged by rivals changing tyres under a red flag.
Despite a “bit of a mystery” in that race, he is hoping for points in this final round.
Asked, in terms of confidence, how he felt ahead of the weekend Alonso said: “Very high confidence, as usual. It was difficult [last weekend], but without the red flag maybe I was P6 or P7 even on a not very competitive weekend.
“We were extremely unlucky with that red flag and some others were extremely lucky, and that is always the same thing on a red flag. I think Abu Dhabi should be better, also in terms of layout for our package.
“The aim is always to try to be in the top 10, score as many points as we can. We know that in a normal race our level is good enough for P8, P9, P10. If something happens in front of us, maybe a little bit further up.”