RACE DEBRIEF

    Fernando Alonso may have scored his first point for Alpine at Imola but the two-time World Champion said he has “no excuses” for not having got to grips with his new car ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix – adding that he felt “a bit down” after finishing 10th last time out.

    Having retired from the Bahrain Grand Prix, then clinching a single point at Imola, Alonso admitted before the Portuguese Grand Prix that he still isn’t comfortable enough with his Alpine A521 to extract the maximum from it – but stressed that it’s the same for everybody who’s changed teams this season.

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    “There are things you discover with races and with experience. So that’s something that is not different for me or is bigger to me as it’s not that I changed team, I changed sport basically. It will take time but it is not an excuse and I need to work harder and prepare things better into the weekend,” he said.

    “I’ve changed teams and categories many times in my career and it was never a problem, and it will not be a problem this time, either. Soon we’ll be at 100%.”

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    Asked how he felt after finishing in the top 10 at Imola – he crossed the line 11th but was promoted after Raikkonen’s penalty for a Safety Car infringement – Alonso wasn’t exactly thrilled.

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    He said: “I’m happy to take the point and to see both cars in the points but yeah, the feelings after Imola, they were a little bit down because I think the weekend in general, I was not extracting the maximum from the car. So that was not easy, but let’s move on and we prepare even more [for] this race in the simulator and with more analysis, so let’s try again."

    The 2005 and '06 champion went on to explain where he’s lacking with his Alpine F1 car.

    Formula One World Championship
    Alonso has one point and sits 13th in the standings ahead of Portugal

    “A few areas in the car,” he began. “Obviously to know where exactly the limit of the car is something that takes time. You may feel that you’re at 100% but there is 101[%] to search and to go for that limit and then we‘re still working in a couple of comfort areas for me in terms of feedback and steering wheel feeling, or things that for all of us are different, and you need to fine-tune sometimes for driving style and feeling, so we are still in that phase.

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    “It’s going to be OK. It’s going to take a few more races I guess but we start from here in Portimao and try to be already close to 100[%],” he concluded.

    While Portimao hosted its first Grand Prix last season – in which Lewis Hamilton took a record-breaking 92nd Grand Prix win – Alonso has never raced a Formula 1 car here and has a new challenge to deal with this weekend.