Fernando Alonso’s hopes of a sixth podium finish in seven years at the Singapore Grand Prix were left in tatters when a safety car period forced him to make a pit stop, leaving him fourth behind race winner Lewis Hamilton and the two Red Bull drivers.
Alonso had run as high as second on-track, passing Sebastian Vettel following the second round of pit stops. However, when the safety car was deployed to clear the debris from a collision between Sergio Perez and Adrian Sutil, Ferrari opted to pit the Spaniard for a third time, dropping him to fourth place.
Despite being on a fresher set of tires, Alonso could not catch either Vettel or third-placed Daniel Ricciardo, falling 1.3 seconds short at the flag.
Alonso wasn’t too downbeat about the result, feeling that Ferrari has made a profound step forwards in Singapore this weekend.
“With hindsight it’s easy to ask how things would have gone if I hadn’t made a mistake at the start and the safety car hadn’t come out when it did,” Alonso said.
“Overall, I’m pleased with this weekend, because we were competitive and were able to fight with the front-runners.
“Sometimes, a safety car can help but I think that today on this front, we were a bit unlucky, because at that moment we were trying to make sure of second place and our strategy was good.
“We didn’t have much of an alternative, because if we had stayed out, the probability was that the stop for the softs would have cost us more places.
“Even if in the end, I wasn’t able to get past, the fact we were competitive right to the finish confirms we have made a step forward. Now, in Suzuka, a real circuit, we will have a clearer picture of where we are.”
Alonso’s fourth-place finish was enough to move him up into P4 in the drivers’ championship ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who failed to score on Sunday.