What happened when Fernando Alonso asked Esteban Ocon to "defend like a lion"?

Third-placed Fernando Alonso in parc ferme after the Qatar Grand Prix.
Third-placed Fernando Alonso in parc ferme after the Qatar Grand Prix.

Alpine F1 driver Fernando Alonso radioed his team amidst the Qatar Grand Prix to request that his teammate Esteban Ocon Ocon "defend like a lion" against Sergio Perez as the final stages of the race unfolded.

The 40-year-old double world champion opted for a single-stop tire strategy, changing from the soft compound to the hard. The Spaniard, who was nursing his tires, had Red Bull F1's Perez closing in on him towards the finishing stages of the race.

On being informed about Perez's charge through the field, Fernando Alonso keyed up his team radio and said:

"Tell Esteban to defend like a lion."
Tell Esteban to defend like a lion😁#QatarGP @alo_oficial

As Perez charged towards the double world champion, a Virtual Safety Car allowed him to cool his tires and maintain third place. Fernando Alonso eventually scored his first podium in 105 races and seven years..

LAP 46/57Fernando Alonso is in P3 - and implores Esteban Ocon to "defend like a lion" behind him and hold off a charging Sergio Perez... 🎧📻#QatarGP 🇶🇦 #F1

In a sense, it was a return of favor from Ocon, who won the Hungarian Grand Prix earlier this year due to Fernando Alonso's excellent defense against Lewis Hamilton. Speaking after the Qatar Grand Prix, Ocon said:

"I wanted to give back today what Fernando gave me in Budapest."

Fernando Alonso became third 40-year-old F1 podium finisher in three decades

The statistics surrounding Fernando Alonso's Qatar Grand Prix result make him only the third driver in 35 years to claim a podium above the age of 40. The other two drivers to hold the distinction are Michael Schumacher (2012) and Nigel Mansell (1994).

Fernando Alonso's first podium in 105 races also set a record in terms of the longest gap between podium finishes for an F1 driver. Prior to the Qatar Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso last finished on the podium at the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix, before Max Verstappen had even made his debut, in 2015.

Edited by Sandeep Banerjee
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