Jenson Button said that Pierre Gasly’s defensive move against Fernando Alonso “felt a little bit late” as the pair jostled for position at the Dutch Grand Prix on Sunday.
Gasly started the race 11th, with Alonso behind in 13th after they had both been knocked out in Q2 on Saturday, and the other Alpine of Esteban Ocon sandwiched in between them
Ocon made quick work of clearing both Gasly and his team-mate, Yuki Tsunoda, who had made Q3 with a fine performance, in the opening exchanges.
Alonso also managed the clear the AlphaTauri cars, but not before a slightly late defensive move by the 26-year-old.
The double world champion would then stop early for a set of Hards, and he took them long into the race until a Virtual Safety Car allowed him to switch to the Softs again.
Ocon stayed out during the caution period caused by Tsunoda’s retirement, but the Frenchman then lost out during the series of pit stops under the full Safety Car caused by Valtteri Bottas.
Alonso, meanwhile, managed to clear Lando Norris in the pits, and he did well to take avoiding action when Carlos Sainz was unsafely released in front of him.
The 27-year-old was penalised as a result, and the Alpine finished sixth, with Norris one position behind.
Sainz came home eighth after his penalty was applied, and Ocon grabbed two points in ninth, so Alpine extended their lead over McLaren in the battle for fourth in the championship to 24 points.
Gasly went for a similar strategy to Alonso in pitting early, but he chose to go for the Mediums, necessitating a further stop onto Hards later in the race.
This cost him when the Virtual Safety Car was deployed, but the full Safety Car brought him back into play later on.
However, Gasly agonisingly missed out on points in 11th despite a superb effort from the rumoured Alpine target for next year.
“Not many emotions, P11 is never a great feeling,” Gasly told Lawrence Barretto with a smile after the race.
“We tried, I think we gave our best, I mean our race could have been a little better, we lost a lot of time the whole first stint.
“[We spent a lot of the] second stint on the Mediums in the traffic and then, once we managed to pull out of traffic with the hard tyre, the pace was good.
“But, it was already too late, we lost too much at the start so, I think objectively, that’s the best we could [do].
“Aston Martin was really fast, Lance [Stroll, who finished 10th] was really fast, and also the Alpines were definitely faster than us today, so yeah, some more to analyse but I think that’s pretty much the fair position for us.”
Alonso praised his Alpine team for the stroke of genius in pitting him for Hards early doors.
“It was not very popular, the hard tyre before the race!” explained the Spaniard.
“But for us, it was the tyre to use so it was a very good call for the team.
“After free practice, we identified that the hard tyre was working for our car, so yeah, we made a very aggressive, early stop and tried to use some clean air in front of us.
“[It was a] very long middle stint with the hard tyre but we could use our pace in the car and that was very good.”
The unfortunate qualifying for Alpine on Saturday disguised the fact that they had a quick car last weekend.
“The car was always good I think in the weekend,” added Alonso.
“But, the qualifying was a little bit difficult for us, traffic as well in Q2 etc, but nevertheless, you get new sets [of tyres] for the race if you are not in Q3 so it paid off at the end on Sunday.”
Max Verstappen went on to win the race for the second year running in front of his adoring home crowd.