It was a first-ever Qatar Grand Prix to remember for Fernando Alonso, after securing an unbelievable third place at the Losail International Circuit for his first podium since 2014. Team-mate Esteban Ocon finished fifth in what was the perfect weekend for the Alpine F1 Team.
Fernando Alonso returned to the podium for the first time since the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix, one-hundred-forty-six races ago, after taking an incredible risk of running a one-stop strategy. The Spaniard’s risk was met with the ultimate reward as Alonso stepped foot on the rostrum. He raced brilliantly after starting from third due to Valtteri Bottas’s and Max Verstappen’s grid penalties, and quickly overtook Pierre Gasly for second in the early stages of the race.
Alonso was only overtaken by Verstappen who finished second and Sergio Pérez who finished fourth, the Mexican was on a two-stop strategy so had a pit-stops worth of time to make up on Alonso. The veteran was helped by a late VSC for a stricken Nicholas Latifi, halting a charging Pérez who only finished a couple seconds behind.
The Double-world champion is overwhelmed to be back on the podium after a super weekend.
“It felt fantastic today and to be back on the podium was so good. We deserved this result as a team and I’ve had to wait seven years since my last one. Hopefully we don’t need to wait this long again! We took some risks with the one-stop strategy but it worked out well. We had some strong pace and despite Perez catching us at the end we did enough to hang on.
“Esteban did a great job in assisting the result and our pitstops were brilliant, so well done to the whole team. I love this track and the car felt amazing all weekend, so I can’t wait to come back here. There was also quite a lot of action and overtakes, which is something we weren’t sure of at the start of the weekend. In the end, it was a perfect weekend for us and we scored lots of points in the Constructors’ Championship, so now we have a good advantage over Alpha Tauri heading into the final two races.”
“Almost like a win to us” – Esteban Ocon
Esteban Ocon also had a brilliant race, the Frenchman started in ninth but was quickly working his way towards the top five after an excellent start. Ocon was on the same strategy as Alonso which appeared to work a treat, the Alpine driver was helped on his way to taking fifth though with Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas both getting punctures whilst ahead of the Frenchman.
In the closing stages of the race, Ocon was given the monumental task of keeping Pérez behind for as long as possible. He defended valiantly and cost Pérez at least a second, whilst the Mexican was on his charge of Alonso.
Overall a great result for Ocon who believes he did the maximum he was able to.
“Today was a great race on our side and I am very pleased to have finished fifth after starting ninth. I managed to pass Carlos [Sainz] and Yuki [Tsunoda] after a good start. I tried to return the favour to Fernando from Budapest; I asked the team if they needed me to defend from Perez.
“He was on fresh tyres and it was not easy, but I did the maximum I could. Today’s result is almost like a win for us. Everyone in the team deserves credit for this fantastic effort. Twenty-five points’ gain over Alpha Tauri sets us up very well for the final two races of the year!”