RACE DEBRIEF

    Fernando Alonso might have started seventh and finished seventh in Suzuka, but what happened in between was anything but straight forward. The Spaniard managed to survive contact at the start with Sebastian Vettel, before making the best of what turned out to be a less than optimum strategy to ensure that Alpine returned to fourth in the constructors’ standings.

    Alonso found himself sixth at the resumption of racing after the lengthy red flag stoppage, but wasn’t called in to swap from the full wet weather tyre to the intermediate until Lap 9. At that point he was leading the race – but losing time to those who had already made the switch. But that wasn’t the only call the Spaniard questioned post-race.

    Stuck behind Vettel on wearing intermediates and with George Russell bearing down on him, the decision was made to pit again, with Alonso the only leading car to do so.

    READ MORE: 5 Winners and 5 Losers from the Japanese Grand Prix – Who mastered the wet conditions in Suzuka?

    “We stopped very late every time we decide to pit; at the beginning I was alone with the full wets and I lost a couple of places,” he said afterwards. “And at the end we made an extra stop but only six laps to the end, there was not time really to make a difference so we ended up in the same position.”

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    Alpine are once again ahead of McLaren in the constructors' fight

    While there was nothing gained from the second stop, there was at least nothing lost. But on a day where Vettel – who Alonso battled to the chequered flag on the final lap – went from last to sixth, the opportunity was there for a bigger result, leaving Alonso ambivalent about his performance.

    “It was a fun but very chaotic race today and I’m glad we managed to put on a show in the end for the fans. We scored some good points and I think we could have scored even more. It was a difficult race to manage with the wet conditions, Safety Cars and the red flag.”

    READ MORE: Ocon enjoys ‘karting battle’ with Hamilton as Alpine reclaim P4 from McLaren with Suzuka points haul

    The good news is that, combined with team mate Esteban Ocon’s fourth place, Alpine have once again swapped places with McLaren in the constructors’, back in fourth with a 13-point advantage.