BWT Alpine claimed well-earned double points finish from the Bahrain Grand Prix with Esteban Ocon finishing seventh and Fernando Alonso ninth after a gripping season-opener in Sakhir.
Patience, clinical driving and reliability proved decisive in the result with both drivers facing a three-stop strategy during the taxing 57-lap race.
Ocon began well from eleventh on the grid on new Softs pushing up into the top 10 on the opening lap, despite tagging Mick Schumacher at Turn 6, which resulted in a five-second time penalty.
Serving the penalty at his first pit-stop on lap 14.
The Frenchman swiftly weaved his way back through the field, pitting again on lap 30 for Hards and lap 43 under the Safety Car for Softs.
Esteban Ocon, started P11, finished P7 said: “I’m very pleased with today and it’s a great start to the season with double points secured for the team.
“Our pace today was strong, there were some good overtakes and the team made the right calls on strategy.
“I’d like to say a special shoutout to the pit crew as well who were excellent with so many pit-stops today. Other than the incident with Mick (Schumacher), which I hold my hands up and apologise for, I was pretty pleased with my race.
“We will debrief with the team, we can take positives from today’s performance and we look ahead to next week. Onwards and upwards.”
Alonso’s race was less straight forward with challenging stints on all three tyre compounds.
The Spaniard was always knocking on the door for points throughout and, like Ocon, benefitted from the hat-trick of retirements to cars ahead in the closing stages to climb into the points.
Fernando Alonso, started P8, finished P9 said: “I’m happy to score two points in today’s first race of the season. It was not easy out there with the high tyre degradation, which we were all expecting going into the race.
“We defended a lot during the first stint and pushed quite hard, so perhaps this was less than ideal. We have to keep learning about these new tyres and it’ll probably be a big topic throughout the season.
“Overall, I think overtaking is easier because the tyres are all at different levels and following the cars ahead is better.
“We go again next weekend in Saudi Arabia, where no doubt it’ll be a different set of challenges.”
With eight points scored from the Grand Prix, the team heads to Saudi Arabia next weekend, March 25-27, sitting fifth in the Constructors’ Championship.