Alonso 'surprised' to overtake Vettel in Shanghai

Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren
© XPB 

For Fernando Alonso, overtaking the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel in a straight fight on track was a definite highpoint of this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.

But the two-time world champion is keenly aware that the brief duel between the pair was by no means a true indicator of the McLaren's pace in Shanghai.

Vettel was clearly handicapped by damage to his SF71H as a result of an earlier collision with Red Bull's Max Verstappen. It left him limping home in damage limitation mode.

“It was a surprise definitely you know when I saw Ferrari going not too fast," Alonso told Sky Sports F1 after the race. "I asked what was the problem.

"Apparently he had damage on his car, so he was struggling a little bit," he explained. "He was running very wide in the corners.

Not that Alonso was inclined to show any sympathy towards his rival as a result, quickly executing a clinical pass for seventh place.

"We caught him and we saw the door open in one corner," he said. "So in the first opportunity I saw the door open and went for it. And yeah, we made the pass.

"In the end at one point the track finished. He kept going until there was grass, so you need to back off at one point.

"Obviously it was not a fair fight because Sebastian had damage on his car and I was a little bit quicker on the corners."

It meant more championship points for Alonso, despite a disappointing qualifying session on Saturday that left him starting the race outside the top ten.

"I think P7 starting from P13 is good points for the team again, so well executed race," he agreed. We were not quick enough again in the race but at the same time I had a great result.

"The safety car didn't help, definitely," he added. "It opened the opportunity for everybody to put a new set of tyres and that was a shame for us.

"We were executing a one-stop strategy a little bit differently, with a very long first stint that I think would have paid off in the end."

Even so, the result handed Alonso another six points. He's currently in sixth place in the drivers standings after four races in the 2018 world championship. He's equal with Renault's Nico Hulkenberg, and ahead of Red Bull star Max Verstappen.

"It was a group race," he said of this week's outcome. "And yeah, we more or less take benefit from all of the battles.

"So as I said, great result for Sunday but we cannot forget that the pace was not there all weekend so we need to keep improving.

"Obviously there’s still some pace to find," he continued. "We need to find more for the next round.

"At the same time I think it was a great battle [today] and we were able to overtake. It was a nice feeling."

His team mate Stoffel Vandoorne finished outside the points in 13th place.

“We thought there might be more opportunities at the end," he commented. "But we didn’t have the pace and I felt a strong vibration in the car which made the last few laps difficult."

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