Alonso: P6 possible in Austria with 'so much faster' Alpine

© XPB 

Fernando Alonso reckoned his spirited chase from behind in Austria could have earned him a top-six finish without a costly double pit-stop, so strong was the pace of his Alpine in the race.

Alonso was forced to launch his race from the back row of the grid at the Red Bull Ring following his retirement from Saturday's sprint event.

A long first stint on the hard tyre brought him into the top-ten, but his first pit stop set him all the way back to P18 from where he recovered once again to run as high as P5 during his second stint.

Unfortunately, a switch to the medium compound in the latter part of the race, during the Virtual Safety Car period, led to severe vibrations that compelled the Alpine driver to stop after just one lap for another tyre change.

From P14, Alonso recovered to cross the checkered flag in 10th position, the Spaniard ruing his forced double-stop that deprived him of a better result.

"It was a tricky race, at the beginning we were all in a DRS train and that was quite difficult to overtake, but I felt so much faster than the cars around," he said.

"In a way I'm very pleased and upbeat about the car performance today, because cars that we are fighting normally with, today they were really slow compared to our pace so that's a very good sign.

"Once they pitted, we had some free air and we maximised our strategy, hard-hard-medium.

"We pitted under the VSC and we were heading to P6, because I was just behind Lando [Norris] with new tyres doing 1m08s at the end, it was very easy to pass them.

"Maybe finishing just behind Esteban [was possible] which could be amazing for the team, fifth and sixth, especially starting last."

"I felt huge vibrations on the tyres immediately after the first sector so we decided to pit again," he said. "I exit P14, nine laps to go and I recovered to P10."

Alonso was put under investigation by the stewards as they suspected a potential unsafe release by his Alpine crew at his second stop and a loose left-front wheel.

However, team and driver were cleared after the race following the stewards' analysis of Alonso's pitstop which showed no issues with Alpine's execution of the tyre change.

The stewards concluded that the wheel had been properly fitted, the team had acted correctly, and that all the retention systems had worked as designed.

Alpine team boss Otmar Szfanuer suggested that a new wheel-locking system used by the Enstone squad may have been the source of the problem.

"I don't know what was causing the vibration yet," said Szafnauer. "But we came in, had a look around and we had a new set of mediums, which was good, and we changed to the new set of mediums, he went off and the vibration was gone.

"I don't know if it was wheel weights or what. We have a wheel mechanism where once it's tight, it's tight, it doesn't come off.

"It's a new thing for us, the FIA approved it. Tim Goss knows exactly how it works, and once the wheel is on it can't come off unless you take it off."

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter