Fernando Alonso has expressed his delight at securing his first podium in Formula 1 for over seven years after just holding off Sergio Perez for third place in today's Qatar Grand Prix.
The two-time World champion had initially qualified fifth on the grid for today's race but was subsequently moved up to third after Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen were handed grid penalties for ignoring yellow flags in Q3.
Alonso quickly moved up to second by the end of Lap 1, passing Pierre Gasly into Turn 3, with the Spaniard holding the position until Lap 5 when Verstappen breezed past on the run down to Turn 1, leaving Alonso to fight with the hard-charging Sergio Perez for the final spot on the rostrum with the Mexican eventually getting past on Lap 29.
But after Perez had to stop again for fresh mediums, Alonso regained third place, and when a late Virtual Safety Car was brought out to clear the debris caused by Nicholas Latifi's front left puncture, the Spaniard cruised home to secure his first podium of the season .
“It felt fantastic today and to be back on the podium was so good. We deserved this result as a team and I've had to wait seven years since my last one. Hopefully we don't need to wait this long again! We took some risks with the one-stop strategy but it worked out well. We had some strong pace and despite Perez catching us at the end we did enough to hang on. Esteban did a great job in assisting the result and our pitstops were brilliant, so well done to the whole team. I love this track and the car felt amazing all weekend, so I can't wait to come back here. "
“There was also quite a lot of action and overtakes, which is something we weren't sure of at the start of the weekend. In the end, it was a perfect weekend for us and we scored lots of points in the Constructors' Championship, so now we have a good advantage over Alpha Tauri heading into the final two races. "
Alpine's cup of joy continued to overflow after Esteban Ocon brought the second Alpine home in fifth, the Enstone-based team goes into the season's final two rounds with a 25 point lead over rivals AlphaTauri who failed to score.