In the latter stages of the race, running fourteenth, behind Ericsson and ahead of Stroll, Alonso enquired who currently held the fastest lap, you could almost hear the sound of a light bulb going on inside his helmet.
With precious little else to fight for in his seasons with McLaren, posting the fastest race lap has been one of the two-time champions’ few sources of satisfaction.
Hoping that he would get the clearance for a pit stop for fresh rubber, having pitted just five laps into the race, his request was denied and his solitary run to fourteenth, with just five races remaining of his F1 career, continued.
“When you are P14… P15 it is good for the team,” he said after the race, “good for the guys working flat out every day, good for the sponsors and partners. But we were lacking ambition I think today.”
“It was quite a long race,” he added. “We stopped on lap 5 to try to undercut some people. All of them had one set of yellow tyres, we had two. The yellow tyre for the whole race with no issues, and that did not come out as we expected. Overall we did not have the pace, as we said before the race.
“Nothing we can do now, so thinking of Japan and maybe we can score some points there.”
Meanwhile, team boss Zak Brown, who was scheduled to attend next weekend’s Bathurst 1000, having bought a stake in the Walkinshaw Andretti United Supercars team, is now understood to have changed his plans and will be present at Suzuka.