The Alpine F1 Team will always remember the first-ever Qatar Grand Prix, after Fernando Alonso returned to the podium for the first time since the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix. There was yet more delight for Alpine with Esteban Ocon securing an excellent fifth place at the Losail International Circuit.
It was an unbelievable drive from both Alonso and Ocon, who were two of the few drivers to risk a one-stop strategy. The risk was well and truly met with a reward, with both cars securing top five finishes. Alonso sat in third the majority of the race after starting in that place for the race, after Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas were awarded grid penalties.
Alonso had overtaken Pierre Gasly for second but then lost the spot to a charging Verstappen. Alonso was later overtaken by Sergio Pérez, however the Mexican fell back behind the Spaniard after being on a two-stop strategy. Pérez was then flying in the closing stages of the race but was momentarily held up by Ocon who defended valiantly.
Ocon’s defending may have secured Alonso the podium, with a late VSC leaving Pérez just a couple of seconds behind Alonso. The result means Alpine are somewhat comfortable now in fifth place in the Constructors’ standings, twenty-five points ahead of Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda with two races remaining.
Alpine’s Chief Executive Laurent Rossi was so happy for Alonso and the team as a whole, after a brilliant weekend for the entire Alpine F1 Team.
“What a fantastic team result. Firstly, a huge congratulations to Fernando on his podium. It marks his first since returning to the team and, I must say, after the season he has had, he truly deserves it. We knew a big opportunity would arise today with the pre-race grid penalties for some cars around us, which propelled us into a great starting position.
“From there, it was down to him at the wheel to navigate himself into contention, for the team to execute the right strategy by making the calls at the right time and the crew to deliver the perfect pit-stop. All of those elements fell into place and the end result is a deserved one: our second visit to the podium of the season. We must not forget Esteban’s equally brilliant drive to finish fifth today. He also enjoyed a superb start, which put him in a great position to score points. He benefited from other cars two-stopping but still remained calm with others closing in late on to take a very valuable ten points.
“With today’s points haul we extend our lead on Alpha Tauri in fifth to 25 points with two rounds remaining. While this is a healthy advantage, we’re not going to get too far ahead of ourselves. We have two races to go and, as we have seen, anything can happen in Formula 1. We aim to build on our consistent performances so far this season – by scoring in 18 of 20 races – in order to cement fifth position by the end of the year.”