Fernando Alonso admitted he drove angry en route to an eighth-place finish Portuguese Grand Prix, which came after a poor qualifying outing left him with work to do.
Alpine looked quick throughout Friday practice and FP3 on Saturday morning, but while Esteban Ocon was able to secure a top-six starting position, Alonso dropped out in Q2 and lined up 13th. His fastest lap was 0.9s slower than his team-mate in qualifying, but Alonso used that frustration to deliver an impressive race performance where he climbed up to eighth and crossed the line 1s behind Ocon.
“I think in Bahrain I was more careful on everything just to complete the first grand prix,” Alonso said. “Imola, I was so uncomfortable in the car with the conditions, I didn’t feel good on the inters, the visibility, the qualifying was bad, so I think this was really the first race that I was extracting the maximum from the car. I was upset after that qualifying so (in the race) that anger was probably on track as well.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 2, 2021
While he can pinpoint areas where his own performances have fluctuated, Alonso says there was also a clear step forward in how competitive the Alpine was in Portimao.
“It was a good race but generally it was a good weekend, not just the race,” he added. “I felt the car was much more competitive here than Imola or Bahrain – we were fighting with one McLaren, one Ferrari, AlphaTauri – so definitely we were in a group that we were not able to be in in Imola or Bahrain, so that was a positive thing.
“We felt competitive already from FP1. We were fifth in FP2. We could have been third in FP3… So it remains a little bit of a mystery what happened yesterday in qualifying when I felt not comfortable and didn’t feel any of the same grip as any other session.
“Unfortunately, that compromised my race a little bit, but overall very happy with the weekend in general and the step forward by the performance of the car. I thought it was a good Sunday for us with the Alpine car being more competitive than any other race so far this year.”