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Fernando Alonso's strange link to Takuma Sato

Fernando Alonso's strange link to Takuma Sato

F1 News

Fernando Alonso's strange link to Takuma Sato

Fernando Alonso's strange link to Takuma Sato

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has likened Fernando Alonso's run of niggles this season to that of former BAR-Honda driver Takuma Sato.

Alonso claims he has lost 60 to 70 points over the first half of the campaign due to a range of issues when in points-scoring positions.

The two-time F1 champion suffered the latest reliability woe with his A522 moments before the sprint event in Austria when he was due to start from sixth on the grid. An electronic control unit [ECU] glitch forced him to immediately retire.

Despite the problems, Alonso claims he is at his best level for 10 years when he was driving for Ferrari and came close to landing a third championship.

Asked if he had encountered a similar run in the past when performance and reward were so disparate, Szafnauer replied: "I have. Takuma Sato in the mid-2000s [2004, when he was team-mate] with Jenson Button."

Szafnauer, vice-president of Honda Racing Developments at the time, added: "We had so many engine failures with Honda [four in five races] when he was in points-scoring positions and it was always him, so yeah, I have seen it."

On this occasion, however, Szafnauer added: "Not that we're failing Fernando. There are a variety of reasons he hasn't been scoring points.

"I can remember Mick Schumacher losing it, hitting him [in the Emilia Romagna GP in Imola] and the sidepod coming loose [leading to retirement after eight laps].

"I can remember him defending in Canada against [Valtteri] Bottas and getting penalised, the penalty in Miami, all sorts of things."

Alonso problems not down to Alpine

Szafnauer and Alonso are due to sit down and discuss a possible contract extension over the next few weeks.

The Spanish driver has indicated a desire to stay, although is likely to have concerns about the ongoing reliability woes.

Szafnauer does not see issues such as those that occurred in Austria having any kind of bearing.

"When it's things like that, it can happen to anyone," added Szafnauer. "And I don't think that's an Alpine issue. All indications are that the ECU failed.

"It's not something we design or make, it's something we buy. Did it fail on an Alpine car because of where it is on the car, the installation or something? I doubt it.

"But we need to find out why it failed and the root cause."

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