Fernando Alonso believes Alpine made a catalogue of "wrong choices" in the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix with his race strategy. While the majority of the field pitted on the second racing lap when the Suzuka race resumed after a two-hour delay for Intermediates, Alonso was forced to tour for another lap as to avoid a double-stack at Alpine with Esteban Ocon running in fourth. During the stop, he lost out two places, but quickly recovered to seventh when he was hauled back in with 10 minutes remaining of what had become a timed race. After scything past the likes of George Russell, Alonso quickly caught Sebastian Vettel on the final lap, but fell just 0.011s short of overhauling his fellow World Champion. Despite banking a 12th points finish of the season, Alonso was left distinctly unimpressed.
Alonso frustrated with Alpine
"The strategy didn't work for us," Alonso told media. "We made the wrong choices continuously: First, we stopped the last to put the Intermediates on, and we lost places. "Then we stopped too late for the second stop with six laps to the end, and I just finished in the same place that I was. "I was asking to pit earlier on both occasions, but today my microphone maybe didn't work." "We should have stopped 10, or 11 or 12 laps to go. "As I said, I don't know what they were doing, and then we stopped six laps until the end. We lost an opportunity."
Alpine defend strategy
There was some confusion at Suzuka as race leader Max Verstappen crossed the line with about four seconds to go before the two-hour time limit was breached. Normally, this would mean that Verstappen would complete the lap he was on, and then an extra one before the chequered flag. It was why he continued at racing speed down the pit-straight and through the first sector, and why the likes of Ocon and Lewis Hamilton and Vettel and Alonso continued their battles. However, as the race breached the ultimate three-hour window at this point, the chequered flag was waved. Alpine sporting director Alan Permane defended the decision to box the two-time World Champion. "Had the race gone to the distance we thought it was going to go, would he have got Sebastian? Yeah," explained Permane. "Probably, we should have done it a little bit earlier, although it's not easy to say because his tyres were going away as well on that stint. "And so in hindsight, yes, we could have. But I don't think we realised quite how easy it was going to be to overtake people. "He was talking about it earlier, should we think about pitting? And he would have had to take five cars, and we thought that's not going to be good. "And then I think we saw Zhou [Guanyu] pit, and he was five seconds a lap quicker. "We said: 'Okay, yes, let's do that.' "We will need to look at it. But for sure if the race had gone on lap longer, which I think it should have done, he would have been in front of Sebastian."