SPIELBERG, Austria -- Fernando Alonso had a 2017-spec front wing fitted to his McLaren as he made his way from a pit lane start to eighth place at the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.
After teammate Stoffel Vandoorne broke two front wings on Austria's high kerbs in practice and Alonso broke another in qualifying, the team ran out of new-spec wings to fit to the car ahead of Sunday's race. Under parc ferme regulations, a change of wing specification between qualifying and the race is punished by a pit lane start and therefore Alonso dropped from his 13th-place starting position to the very back of the field.
After fighting his way back to eighth he revealed that he had no idea how the new front wing would perform ahead of the race.
"We didn't know how the car was going to work, especially after we opted to put one of last year's wings for the race," he said. "We didn't even know what flap angle to put on it, because this car had never run with this wing so we went a little bit blindsided into the race."
As Alonso ran in 19th place during the first stint he appeared frustrated in his comments on team radio, saying "I will not do 71 laps here". After the race he said tyre management was the key to his performance, even if he did not fully understand why McLaren had a tyre advantage.
"I delivered the goods, as I said to the team on the radio. We started the race targeting a points finish and I delivered them. But it was a race not without many troubles, especially in the beginning when we were in the middle of a lot of traffic and we were completely stuck there because we were following six or seven cars that were all together.
"After the pit stops I think a lot of people started to have problems with rear tyre blisters, we didn't and that's what allowed us to move up the order in the last few laps. We have to understand why we didn't suffer from blistering, if we did something different compared to the other teams because that was the key for coming through the field."