Fernando Alonso’s 250th grand prix weekend ended on a low note after the stewards handed him a five-second time penalty for exceeding track limits in Sochi on Sunday.
Alonso had only qualified 16th on a track where McLaren expected to struggle, but benefited from a flurry of late incidents that saw him finish tenth and pick up a solitary world championship point.
However, having been warned about exceeding track limits during the Russian Grand Prix, Alonso was called before the stewards after the race for running wide repeatedly at turn 16.
By way of a penalty, five seconds were added to his finishing time, dropping him down to P11 behind Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen.
Despite being disappointed to have lost the point, Alonso was pleased with McLaren’s performance as both of its cars finished inside the top ten on-track.
“To have both cars finish in the top ten at a circuit where we didn’t expect to fare well was a nice surprise,” Alonso said. “It was just a shame to lose out afterwards.
“In fact, the car performed very well in the race – I think we were able to look after the tires a little bit better than the cars around us, and, on an afternoon where every little bit helped, we made the most of that.
“We’ll now hope for more performance at the next race, in the USA. It’ll be tough, and we’ll have to remain realistic, but I’m definitely happy with today’s result. Now, we can keep moving forwards and improve things for the future.”
Teammate Jenson Button managed to finish the race in ninth, marking his first points since the Hungarian Grand Prix at the end of July.
“Today, we did everything right, did the best we could, and we took home some points,” Button said. “I was a sitting duck for the first couple of laps. I couldn’t really fight off the people behind, my deployment was cutting off at the end of the straights, so it was very easy for people to overtake.
“That was tricky. They were trying to pass me into Turn 13, which is a pretty scary place, especially when you don’t have DRS and can’t gauge the closing speed of the cars behind.
“Still, it wasn’t bad. I was racing Fernando for the whole race, which was all I could really do, as all the other cars were quicker.
“We haven’t made massive progress with the car’s performance, but we did lots of interesting things with the set-up this weekend. We’ll analyze those and see whether they paid off or not.”