Last Sunday in Hungary Esteban Ocon won his first F1 race ever. The Frenchman took the lead after the restart, following a chaotic opening lap crash triggered by Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes, when Hamilton came into the pits one lap too late than the rest of the grid. Ocon managed to keep the lead until the finish line, but his defence against Sebastian Vettel wouldn’t have been enough to win the race.
According to Alpine’s Sporting Director Alan Permane his teammate Fernando Alonso played a “100%, undoubtedly crucial,” role on Sunday. The Spaniard defended his 4th position rather brilliantly, keeping Lewis Hamilton behind for several laps precluding him the chance to take on Ocon.
“It was 11 laps [that Hamilton was behind him] I believe, and if he’d got past him on the first lap like he got past Carlos [Sainz] on the first time, I’m sure Lewis would have been there.”
“I think what we would have done is drop back a little bit, give Seb the DRS and use that to protect a little, but I don’t know if we would have held him off,” Permane added. “Maybe, maybe – and don’t forget, [Hamilton] pitted as one of the last people so he had very fresh tyres, he was one of the quickest people in that last stint.”
Words of praise for Alonso also came from the team’s Executive Director Marcin Budkowski.
“Fernando has just proved his class,” he commented during F1 TV’s Post-Race Show. “The thing that’s amazing with Fernando is how he reads races. He knew it was for position, for him potentially, but he knew he was also helping the team.”
He is satisfied with the drivers’ teamwork and the win, that comes after difficult years for Alpine.
“It was a great collaboration between the two drivers, and also I’m massively proud of the team in Enstone and Viry, because we’ve had some tough moments these past few years and this year wasn’t easy, and it’s amazing to take the opportunity in this way.”
“We’ve missed so many of these [opportunities] before,” continued Budkowski. “We missed one in Baku, we missed in Monza last year where there was a bit of a crazy race, and this time we were there to take the opportunity and the win so it’s amazing.”