|© AP Photo/Mohammed al-Sheik
After a disastrous 200th career Grand Prix in Malaysia last month, Fernando Alonso’s 200th race start in Formula 1 proved to be only slightly better.
At the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, the Spaniard had to pit twice in the first few laps when his DRS system malfunctioned.
From fighting at the front, the issue cost him valuable time as he rejoined the track in traffic, but made places in the end to finish eighth earning two points.
"After the opening laps, when I thought the rear tyres had gone off, the pit wall informed that the DRS was stuck," Alonso said. "It wasn’t fixed properly at the first stop and so I had to come in for another one.
"From then on, the clear instruction from the pit wall not to use it affected my race. I tried to recover but it was really difficult finding places to overtake without DRS. When you are far back, in the middle of a group, tyre degradation is even harder to manage," he pointed out.
The double world champion though completed his 59th straight race without a mechanical failure, equalling Mark Webber, who recorded the same streak from Japan 2009 to Abu Dhabi 2012.
Strangely, he equalled the record in a race where he suffered a mechanical failure.
The result, however, was consistent with his past performances in Bahrain. He has won the race more times than any other driver - with three victories – but stayed off the podium every other time in his nine appearances in the Gulf kingdom.
Team principal Stefano Domenicali said that the result "needs to be put behind us in a hurry" but hailed Alonso's performance in the race.
"Despite his problem with the DRS, Fernando produced a blistering drive, pulling off overtaking moves and setting lap times that were absolutely incredible," said the Italian.
Alonso is now 30 points adrift from championship leader Sebastian Vettel, who won his second race this season in Bahrain.
It was a day to forget for Ferrari as Felipe Massa too encountered problems. The Brazilian damaged his front wing in a collision with Force India's Adrian Sutil on the opening lap and later had issues with his tyres disintegrating twice.