Alonso: Qatar GP podium return felt "unbelievable"

Fernando Alonso said his return to the Formula 1 podium at the Qatar Grand Prix 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, Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT02, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, and Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521, Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT02, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, and Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M

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

F1 Grand Prix race results: Lewis 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
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay Prime

Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax Prime

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings

Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021
How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage Prime

How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage

There was simply no stopping Lewis Hamilton on Formula 1's first visit to Qatar. The Mercedes driver eased to pole position and led every lap to secure an utterly dominant victory - even without a key Mercedes weapon in his arsenal to increase the heat on Red Bull heading into the final two races of the gripping 2021 title race

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021
Qatar's long-term plans for a "World Cup every single year" Prime

Qatar's long-term plans for a "World Cup every single year"

Qatar is preparing to host the football World Cup next year, but will be thrown into the sporting spotlight this weekend as Formula 1 prepares to race in the country. Ahead of a 10-year deal to hold a grand prix from 2023 onwards, it's a much-needed opportunity to highlight reforms in the country

Formula 1
Nov 20, 2021