Alpine extended its points-scoring streak to fourteen races as Fernando Alonso finished in sixth place in a busy and eventful Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom with Esteban Ocon outside the points in fourteenth place.
The race began dry and ended in the wet as rain fell just a handful of laps from the end, bringing a difficult decision on whether to gamble on dry tyres to the chequered flag or opt for Intermediates.
Eventually, both drivers went for Intermediates with Alonso able to hold onto sixth place and add a valuable eight points to the Championship.
Sixth place finisher Alonso said “We finished sixth, but I think third place is more of a true reflection of our finishing position today. It all came down to luck in the end with the rain coming so late on. It was like a flip of a coin.
“Some cars stopped one lap earlier and I was in third position when it really started to rain. It was impossible to predict. Nevertheless, sixth is a good result for us and we deserved it. We looked competitive throughout the race, so there are lots of positives to take away.”
Both drivers made strong starts off the line with Alonso – starting on Hards – late on the brakes into Turn 2 in the fight for the top four, and Ocon – on Mediums – able to progress to eighth place.
Alonso settled into eighth and Oconninth in the early running.
Pitting on lap 15, Ocon went for new Hards to cover others around him while Alonso remained out and ran long on Hards, occupying second place for seven laps.
After his pit-stop for Mediums on lap 36, Alonso soon chased the top five, passing Max Verstappen into Turn 2 on lap 37.
With the threat of rain increasing, Alonso continued his charge towards the podium positions, which he briefly held after passing Sergio Perez on lap 48.
As the rain fell, he and Ocon pitted for Intermediates three laps from the end.
The Spaniard was able to battle back to sixth with Ocon outside the points in fourteenth.
A disappointed Ocon said “It was not a good race for us today and, in general, we haven’t had the pace all weekend. It’s disappointing, of course, not to score points, especially when there was an opportunity at the end with the wet conditions.
“We didn’t make the right decision at the end and it was a risk to stay out on track on dry tyres. It’s one of those days we have to forget, and we’ll move on, analyse what happened, and come back stronger for the next race.”
The team will have two weeks to prepare for the next round of the Formula One season when it returns for the Turkish Grand Prix on October 8-10.