Fernando Alonso has expressed his pleasure with his performance in today's Portuguese Grand Prix, which saw the Spaniard produce an excellent comeback drive to finish eighth after starting from 13th on the grid.
The two-time World champion who is returning to the sport after two years away had endured a difficult start to the season with retirement in Bahrain and a single point in difficult conditions in Imola suffered a difficult qualifying session that put his Alpine on row seven and a further seven places behind teammate Esteban Ocon on starting grid.
However, the race was a different story as the Spaniard took advantage of having fresh medium tires to start the race on with Alonso running in the top six until pitting on lap 40 for hard tires, before producing a late-race charge to snatch eighth after two crucial moves on Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz Jr in the closing stages of the race.
Alonso spoke of his delight in Alpine's progress from the first two races of the season, as well as his enjoyment of his battle with countryman Sainz Jr and Ricciardo.
“It was good; it was fun, we were fighting with one Mclaren, one Ferrari - things that were unthinkable in Imola or Bahrain. So I think we made a big step forward in terms of car performance. Bahrain, I was more careful on everything, just to complete the first Grand Prix. Imola, I was so uncomfortable in the car with the conditions - I didn’t feel good on the intermediate tyres, the visibility, the qualifying was bad. This was really the first race where I was extracting the maximum from the car. I was upset after yesterday’s qualifying, so today, that anger was probably on track as well.”
Nevertheless, Alonso has talked of his urge to improve on his qualifying as the sport heads to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix.
“Always it’s a big boost when you have a car that can fight in the higher positions," he said. "I think Saturdays are still my weakness at the moment, to extract the maximum from that one-lap performance. And we know that Barcelona and Monaco the Saturdays are key because overtaking is very difficult. So some homework to do for next weekend, but I will try to be prepared.”