Fernando Alonso says he was relieved by Alpine’s pace in the French Grand Prix, which allowed the Enstone squad to fight among the top ten on merit.
Last month, Alonso said that his championship would properly get underway in France after an opening series of races in which he bed himself in after a two-year hiatus from F1 and after a series of tracks that he believed would not suit Alpine’s car.
Alonso qualified P9 at Paul Ricard, outpacing his teammate, and then went one better on Sunday when he crossed the checkered flag 8th, among a train of four cars battling for P6 that were separated by just a handful of seconds.
The two-time world champion said that F1’s return last weekend to a conventional circuit proved that Alpine is a consistent top-ten contender.
“I’m happy and I’m happier every race,” he said. “I think already in Portugal and Barcelona we did a step forward in terms of competitiveness and happiness with the car.
“After Barcelona unfortunately Monaco and Baku, the two street circuits, came and put some doubts in everybody because we were uncompetitive and were struggling to warm up the tyres.
“We were not lost but we had some other problems than the car or adaptation, it was just putting heat in the tyres.
“Now coming back to a conventional circuit, it was a relief in a way to see that we are performing well and we are fighting in the top 10 regularly.
“So, this was good news and I think for the rest of the championship we will be up and down a little bit – it depends on the circuit characteristics – but I’m happy we can extract the maximum from the car.”
After seven races, Alpine currently sits seventh in the Constructors’ standings. But Alonso sees his team moving up in the pecking order if it can perform more consistently.
“I think McLaren and Ferrari are stronger from the first race so I don’t think we are in that position [to challenge] unfortunately, but you never know,” he said..
“You saw in Portugal we were faster than Ferrari on race pace, today as well, so there are some circuits that give you some hope, but I think it’s going to be challenging.
“At the moment we are behind Aston Martin and AlphaTauri and they are very strong as well, so it’s going to be interesting in the Constructors’ Championship.
“We will try to score points every weekend and try to be consistent.
“We’ve been a little bit too much up and down, especially as I said with Baku and Monaco we felt uncompetitive there and we don’t want to feel uncompetitive anywhere, we want to feel as consistent as possible.”
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