Fernando Alonso believes his battle to keep Sergio Perez behind in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix proved tougher than resisting Michael Schumacher at Imola in 2005.

Alonso scored only his second podium since June on Sunday in Interlagos, beating Perez in a thrilling tussle to emerge out on top in third by only 0.053s at the chequered flag.

The Spaniard used a combination of altered driving lines to disrupt the wake of the Red Bull and battery deployment to remain ahead for several laps. Although Perez got through at Turn 1 on the penultimate lap, Alonso edged his way back ahead on the final tour.

In 2005, Ferrari’s title defence had been stymied by tyre manufacturer Bridgestone being caught out by the FIA’s new regulations mandating every driver to complete races using only one set of tyres.

The Ferrari-Bridgestone combination proved to be the fastest at Imola, but Alonso resisted the advances of Schumacher to clinch a stunning victory in a tense finale.

However, Alonso insists that soaking up the pressure from the Ferrari 18 years ago proved simpler at the tight Imola venue because the aid of DRS wasn’t available.

“It was easier in 2005 because it was non-DRS,” Alonso admitted. “Now with the DRS, it seems a little bit different and you have to play things a little bit differently as well.

“And tyre management was also very different back then, where you can maybe push the tyre all the way.”

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR23. 05.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Race Day.

Alonso was able to capitalise on Perez committing a slight misjudgement into Turn 1 to regain third position on the approach to Descido do Lago on the 71st and final lap.

Asked if DRS helped him in Brazil, Alonso replied: “Yeah, true. If in 2005 you lose the position, then it’s bye-bye, you cannot recover and here I had another chance.

“It has been introduced to provide a little bit better show and [this] is a good example of that, because you get overtaken two laps from the end and then you have another chance, especially here in Brazil.”

Following Saturday’s Sprint race, Daniel Ricciardo criticised the inclusion of two separate DRS zones between the Senna S sequence of corners that make up Turns 1-3.

Alonso, though, has commended the Interlagos circuit, citing that the track layout promotes the possibility of recovering a lost place from Turn 1 just moments later.

“When there is an overtaking done into Turn 1, there is a strong possibility that into Turn 4 someone will get the position back,” Alonso added.

“That’s why we see some very nice battles in races always in Interlagos. It has been a spectacular weekend, as always here in Brazil.

“Sometimes it’s the weather providing this great show and I think this weekend without any rain or any weather we saw incredible races.

“So, there is something in this track that always gives a perfect opportunity for Formula 1 to shine.”

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