However a pre-race arrangement meant the number seven car of Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez was not to challenge for the lead in the latter stages of the race.
“We told the drivers they could race until the last pit stop,” a Toyota spokesperson confirmed to RaceFans. “After that they were told to hold positions and Mike was instructed to leave a safety gap to Fernando.
“It’s worth adding that we would have issued exactly the same instruction if car seven had been leading after the final stops,” the spokesperson added.
The Alonso/Buemi/Nakajima car inherited pole position after their team mates’ entry was stripped of its qualifying times and given a one-lap penalty for running with an incorrect fuel flow meter. Toyota said the mistake was due to an “administrative error” and it did not give the car a performance advantage.
A series of Safety Car periods helped the number eight car catch up to the sister machine, which led most of the race. Team radio during the race revealed Alonso was running without hybrid boost at one stage and also had to manage high gearbox temperatures.