When the rain began to fall in Sochi, the Alpine driver was battling Red Bull's Sergio Perez for the final step on the podium.
Fernando Alonso thought his performance in the Russian Grand Prix deserved a podium, but he had to settle for sixth after pitting a lap later than the other drivers for intermediate tyres, giving his rivals the advantage. When the rain began to fall in the closing stages of the Sochi Autodrom, the Alpine F1 Team driver was battling Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez for the final step on the podium, and he headed to the pits with three laps remaining to switch to the intermediate compound. However, Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo, and Valtteri Bottas all benefited from pitting the previous lap, with Alonso’s time lost driving around the damp-to-wet track on slick tyres costing him a first Alpine podium finish.
“We finished sixth, but I think third place is more of a true reflection of our finishing position today,” reckoned Alonso. “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,” the former world champion added.
Esteban Ocon, Alonso’s Alpine teammate, took the same gamble as Alonso and, like the Spaniard, lost massively, finishing the day outside the points in fourteenth. Whereas Alonso was battling for the podium, Ocon was hoping to break into the minor points-paying positions on Sunday, and the pit-stop delay cost him the chance to finish in the top ten.
Ocon admitted that pitting with three laps to go was the wrong decision, and he will be looking to put the weekend in Russia behind him and begin preparations for the Turkish Grand Prix in two weeks.
“It was not a good race for us today and, in general, we haven’t had the pace all weekend,” said Ocon. “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 2021 Hungarian GP winner added.
“When it rains it’s just a very lucky factor. And I’m sad because when we are not competitive and we are P11 or P12, it never rains so we never get lucky. And today we are P3, today it just rained. So not sad but definitely we are not very lucky,” lamented Alonso after the race.
“But every point we got this year is on merit, we deserved. We never had any presents. We never had any gifts, today or this year. So I am proud of every point that I took this year,” the Spaniard added.