BWT Alpine F1 Team’s Fernando Alonso claimed a well fought fifth place in the British Grand Prix.
In a race filled with drama from start to finish at a sold-out Silverstone Esteban Ocon looked set to join Alonso in the points, but he was forced to retire from eighth place, 14 laps from the end with a suspected fuel pump failure.
The 10 points gained means the team closes the gap to McLaren in fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship to six points.
A red flag after an incident at Turn 1 on the opening lap brought almost a one-hour delay to the scheduled 52-lap race.
Ocon was caught up in the incident that involved a handful of cars including Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou, Williams’ Alex Albon and Mercedes’ George Russell.
Driving with damage sustained to the front-right corner of his A522, Ocon nursed the car home during the red flag period, which allowed the team to make the necessary repairs to his car during the delay.
An unlucky Ocon, said: “The most important thing to take out of this race is that Zhou (Guanyu) is OK after that massive crash. It happened right in front of me, and I was lucky to avoid most of it, but then I sustained damage on the right side of the car from contact with Alex [Albon].
“I have to say, the guys did an incredible job getting the car repaired and ready for the race restart, so thanks and well done to them. We did well at the restart and the pace in the car was good.
“A fuel pump issue on lap 38 ended our race unfortunately and we had to retire the car. All in all, it wasn’t a smooth weekend with some of the car issues in Q2 and today during the race, so we’ll need to look into all of this closely.
“It was a weekend with a lot of learning and I’m happy for the team with the solid points from Fernando (Alonso) today. Onto the next race in just a few days’ time”
After the restart, Alonso, on Mediums, pushed ahead to put pressure on the McLaren of Lando Norris in fifth, while Ocon, on Softs, edged towards the top ten and into points-scoring contention.
By lap 11, they were both in the top ten with Alonso holding sixth and Ocon in seventh.
Ocon pitted for Hards on lap 22, while Alonso remained out aiming to undercut McLaren’s Lando Norris ahead.
Alonso pitted on lap 33 for Hards before Ocon’s retirement with a suspected fuel pump issue on the old start-finish straight brought out the Safety Car.
Points scored Alonso, said: “It was a fun race today and we are happy to finish in fifth position.
“I was hoping there would be some drama at the end, and we might have sneaked a podium with all of the action, but it was fun to be fighting amongst it inside the top five places.
“I think our final position should realistically be fourth because I saw Charles [Leclerc] weaving multiple times in front of Lewis [Hamilton] and, compared to what happened to me in Canada, I guess it’s not allowed and should be a penalty.
“Looking back at the weekend as a whole, I think the car was very good and I felt more competitive than in any other races so far this season.
“We executed our race very well and showed consistent pace. I’m expecting us to keep this up and hopefully maintain our competitiveness again over the next few races.
“I must say congratulations to Carlos [Sainz] on his first win and, also, I’m glad Zhou is OK after his incident at the start. It shows how far safety has come in modern Formula 1 racing.”
Capitalising Alonso pitted for Softs, leapfrogging Norris who left his stop one lap later.
A seven-lap sprint to the finish between six cars and five different teams ensued with Alonso well in the mix for a podium position.
After a thrilling jostle for position across a number of laps and a number of cars, Alonso settled for a deserved fifth place at the chequered flag.
The team sit fifth in the constructors championship behind McLaren in fourth and will turn their attention to the Austrian Grand Prix in a weeks time.