Alonso says 'anger' stemming from poor qualifying inspired him to second points finish for Alpine
Fernando Alonso cut a frustrated figure after qualifying 13th in Portugal – especially with team mate Esteban Ocon qualifying a strong sixth. But the Spaniard said he put that “anger” to good use in the race, using it to propel him to a second straight points finish in his third race for Alpine.
After dropping two places on the opening lap, Alonso gradually climbed the order over a long opening stint, eventually pitting on lap 40, by which time he was running sixth. Upon returning to the track, he then made big passes on McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and countryman Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari to finish eighth, one place behind Ocon.
That performance was, according to the man himself, down to him finally feeling a level of comfort to push his car.
“It was good, it was fun,” he said. “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 the 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.”
The two-time world champion said he now heads to his home race in Spain next weekend with added confidence, even if he knows his results won't improve until he can make strides in qualifying.
“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.”
Alonso's eighth place is his best result since Singapore 2018, though he did sit out the 2019 and 2020 seasons.