After starting at the back of the grid following a 60-place grid penalty after two engine changes, Fernando Alonso admitted that he did not expect to finish seventh in the Belgian Grand Prix.
The McLaren-Honda driver was able to avoid much of the chaos on the opening laps to move up to run as high as fourth just after the restart following the red flag, and although not being able to keep Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez or Sebastian Vettel behind him, he was able to score good points for the team.
“It was an exciting race to drive and I had a good feeling throughout,” admitted Alonso. “We had good pace this weekend; we did better than expected on this track; we were in the top 10 with Jenson [Button] yesterday in qualifying; and we’ve scored points today.
“Believe me: a few months ago that would have been unthinkable on a circuit like this. That’s progress – real progress.
“And, after all the bad luck we’ve had so far this weekend, we finally got some good luck today. We started last, but we managed to keep away from all the incidents, gain some positions thanks to the Safety Car and then a couple more because of the red flag.
“We then put on fresh tyres and found ourselves in fourth place – and, better still, we had the pace to manage the situation afterwards.
“Okay, we couldn’t hold back Lewis [Hamilton], Checo [Perez] or Seb [Vettel], because they were just too fast, but we had enough pace to keep Valtteri [Bottas] behind all the way to the flag.”
Alonso was also happy that McLaren overtook Scuderia Toro Rosso for sixth in the Constructors’ Championship with the result, and insists the team are continuing to move in the right direction.
“It’s great news that we overtook Toro Rosso in the Constructors’ World Championship – I think we can be regularly in the points from now on,” said Alonso.
“To sum up, this weekend we saw evidence of very good progress from the team; we’re moving in the right direction, that’s for sure.”