Fernando Alonso has been handed a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits at Turn 16 during the Russian Grand Prix, which drops the McLaren-Honda driver just out of the points-paying positions.
Starting his 250th F1 race from the back of the field following an engine grid penalty, the Spaniard fought his way up to 10th in an action-packed contest at Sochi, a circuit where Alonso was braced for a tough outing in his MP4-30.
This would have been the double world champion's third points-finish of the season after Silverstone and Budapest, but the 34-year-old was able to find solace in team-mate Jenson Button claiming P9.
“To have both cars finish in the top 10 at a circuit where we didn’t expect to fare well, was a nice surprise,” said Alonso. “It was just a shame to lose out afterwards [because of the penalty].
“We’ve been all weekend very realistic about our chances and so when we found ourselves in the race fighting for the points, we got excited. It was fun.
“The car performed quite well in the race. We had to do a lot of laps with one set of tyres but even with that it looks like we take care of the tyres better than the others.”
Having already retired on seven occasions this year, Alonso, who was encouraged by Honda’s latest power unit specification in FP1, was equally pleased to see the chequered flag for a second consecutive time, especially after using “experimental parts” on his MP4-30.
“We’re making progress. In Suzuka both cars finish, here again, after some ups and downs on the reliability side. We’re definitely moving in the right direction. Hopefully we can find more performance in the USA.”
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