When Pierre Gasly went from last to ninth it put him in a position to secure an extra point for fastest lap.
The team elected to pit him during the Virtual Safety Car that was brought out by Charles Leclerc, with Alpine putting the Frenchman on a set of fresh Soft tyres which enabled him to set a 1:35.068 - a second clear of everyone else.
Alfa Romeo had already managed to hold him off with Valtteri Bottas from taking eighth and decided to deploy Zhou Guanyu for a very tactical move.
Zhou had a poor start and while running in 13th, the team elected to pit him with three laps to go. The set of used Softs was enough to for him to make use of the light fuel load and 'rubbered-in' track, smashing Gasly's lap by a further 1.072 seconds.
"We decided to go for the fastest lap [at the end]," said Zhou to media, including RacingNews365.com
"It was obviously a late call by the by the team, but I think that was a good way to take off points from our main competitors Alpine."
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Zhou: Right call to pit for fastest lap
Even though Zhou dropped to P16 which meant he was not eligible for the fastest lap bonus point, it did prevent Gasly from taking it.
Zhou says this was the "right call" from the team considering he was running in 13th with no hope of catching up to the top ten.
He continued: "I think is was the right call to do it because for myself I would've only finished P12 or P13, so no much different to where I finished.
"Our race was [already] a little bit compromised, so to do a fastest lap was better to save those points in the constructors."
With the team identifying Alpine as a main competitor, taking points off Gasly was a crucial marker in where the team sees its opportunities for the season ahead.
Esteban Ocon already had a race to forget after clocking up a hat-trick of penalties, while other rivals McLaren also suffered a nightmare start with both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.
The four points scored by Bottas means Alfa Romeo left the season opener fifth in the constructors' standings ahead of Alpine.
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