Fernando Alonso has said that despite finishing seventh to secure “great points” in Formula 1’s Chinese Grand Prix, McLaren is “not quick enough” at present.
Both Alonso and team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne were eliminated from qualifying at the Q2 stage on Saturday. From 13th on the grid, Alonso recovered to score points in the race, finishing seventh. Vandoorne finished pointless in 13th.
Alonso has now scored in all three of the races in 2018 to sit sixth in the drivers’ standings. However, the two-time world champion believes that McLaren needs to find more speed before the next round in Azerbaijan.
“Still some pace to find as we were not quick enough again in the race, but at the same time it’s a great result,” said Alonso.
“I think P7 after starting P13 is great points for the team again so a well executed race. We need to find more pace for the next one.”
McLaren’s qualifying performance this season has so far been hindered by a lack of straight line speed. Finishing bottom of the speed traps on Friday, Alonso and Vandoorne attempted to provide a tow to each other during qualifying to compensate for the top speed deficit, with limited success.
In race situations, the drag which hinders McLaren in qualifying is less of an issue. Alonso managed to prevail in several race long battles for the lower points paying positions against Haas’ and Renault’s.
When asked about the drivers he faced on-track during the race, Alonso listed; “Romain [Grosjean] and [Kevin] Magnussen. Carlos [Sainz Jr] was pushing quite hard from behind so it was a group race.
“We more or less took benefit from all of the battles so it was a great result for Sunday but we cannot forget that the pace was not there all weekend. So we need to keep improving.”
In order to secure his eventual seventh place finish, Alonso had to pass a limping Sebastian Vettel whose car had been damaged in a tangle with Max Verstappen. Alonso made the overtake on the championship leader at Turn 2.
“I was surprised when I saw a Ferrari going not too fast at the end,” he said. “I asked what was the problem. Apparently, he had damage on his car so he was struggling a little bit on the corners.
“We caught him and we saw the door open in one corner, we went for it and made the pass.”