Alonso: F1 Qatar GP podium return felt "unbelievable"

Fernando Alonso said his return to the Formula 1 podium at the Qatar Grand Prix felt "unbelievable".

Alonso: F1 Qatar GP podium return felt "unbelievable"

The Alpine driver pulled off a one-stop strategy from the second row on the grid at Losail to grab third place behind Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

It was the best result of his comeback season so far and his first podium finish since he came home second for Ferrari at the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Speaking about his feelings after the race, Alonso said: “Yeah, unbelievable. Seven years and finally we got it. We were close a couple of races but not enough. Sochi was the last possibility and here today [we did it].”

Following grid penalties for Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas, Alonso started from third on the soft tyre – and revealed afterwards that he had actually been targetting snatching the lead from pole man Hamilton.

“Honestly, I thought about leading after lap one,” he said. “I thought with the red tyre, I could have a go on Lewis, but I couldn't.

“Then with Checo it was very close at the end. But I’m so happy for the team. Also Esteban P5, so a good Sunday.”

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521, battles with Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521, battles with Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

While a number of other cars hit trouble with tyre failures on aged tyres, Alonso said that Alpine had set out from the beginning on stretching things out to minimise the number of stops.

And although there were some nerves on the pitwall, as the team urged Alonso to look after his rubber in the closing stages, the Spaniard held on well.

“We planned a one stop from the beginning, but we never knew how bad was the wear and the degradation,” he said.

“It is a new race for everybody. But yeah, I think it was quite well executed the race. The pitstop was fantastic. The team was great. The reliability of the car is superb, and you know they deserve it.”

Alonso’s third place and teammate Ocon’s fifth has helped Alpine open up a 25-point margin over main rival AlphaTauri in the constructors’ championship with two races remaining.

The two teams are locking in a tight fight for fifth place overall, with Alpine admitting that spot is a key target for the squad under its new identity this year.

shares
comments

Related video

F1 Grand Prix race results: Hamilton wins Qatar GP
Previous article

F1 Grand Prix race results: Hamilton wins Qatar GP

Next article

Horner summoned to F1 stewards on potential disrepute charge

Horner summoned to F1 stewards on potential disrepute charge
Load comments
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Driver Ratings

An ill-tempered Saudi Grand Prix made Formula 1 more soap opera than sporting spectacle at times, but there were some strong performances up and down the field on the world championship's first visit to Jeddah

How the Jeddah F1 race became a one-sitting Netflix drama series Plus

How the Jeddah F1 race became a one-sitting Netflix drama series

The inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was a race packed full of incident as Formula 1 2021's title contenders repeatedly clashed on track. Lewis Hamilton won out over Max Verstappen to level the scores heading into next weekend's Abu Dhabi finale, as Jeddah turned F1 into a drama series

The impressive attitude that earned Albon his second F1 chance Plus

The impressive attitude that earned Albon his second F1 chance

Dropped by Red Bull last season, Alexander Albon has fought back into a Formula 1 seat with Williams. ALEX KALINAUCKAS explains what Albon has done to earn the place soon to be vacated by the highly rated George Russell

Formula 1
Dec 5, 2021
How Formula E factors could negate Red Bull's Jeddah practice gap to Mercedes Plus

How Formula E factors could negate Red Bull's Jeddah practice gap to Mercedes

Mercedes led the way in practice for Formula 1’s first race in Jeddah, where Red Bull was off the pace on both single-lap and long runs. But, if Max Verstappen can reverse the results on Saturday, factors familiar in motorsport’s main electric single-seater category could be decisive in another close battle with Lewis Hamilton

Formula 1
Dec 3, 2021
Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer Plus

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer

Earning praise from rivals has been a welcome sign that Lando Norris is becoming established among Formula 1's elite. But the McLaren driver is confident that his team's upward curve can put him in the mix to contend for titles in the future, when he's hoping the compliments will be replaced by being deemed an equal adversary

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention Plus

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention

After a disastrous 2020 in which it slumped to sixth in the F1 constructors' standings, Ferrari has rebounded strongly and is on course to finish third - despite regulations that forced it to carryover much of its forgettable SF1000 machine. Yet while it can be pleased with its improvement, there are still steps it must make if 2022 is to yield a return to winning ways

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Plus

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Autosport's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer explains

Formula 1
Dec 1, 2021
Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated Plus

Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated

Humble yet blisteringly quick, Charles Leclerc is the driver Ferrari sees as its next
 world champion, and a rightful heir to the greats of Ferrari’s past – even though, by the team’s own admission, he’s not the finished article yet. Here's why it is confident that the 24-year-old can be the man to end a drought stretching back to 2008

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2021