Alonso returns to the podium: 'Seven years and finally we got it'

© XPB 

Fernando Alonso returned to a F1 podium on Sunday evening for the first time since Hungary in 2014, the Alpine driver hailing as "unbelievable" his run to third in the Qatar Grand Prix.

Alonso was bumped up to P3 on the race's starting grid courtesy of Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas' grid penalties.

But the Spaniard especially relied on a one stop strategy and a flawless performance from start to finish to secure his spot among the top three.

"Honestly, I thought about leading after lap one!" said an overjoyed Alonso. "I thought with the red tyre, I could have a go on Lewis, but I couldn't.

"Then with Checo it was very close at the end. But I'm so happy for the team. Also Esteban P5, so a good Sunday."

Alonso's one-stop plan - which was mirrored by Ocon - implied a long stint on the hard tyre, a decision that turned into a bit of a worrying prospect when several other drivers suffered tyre failures after extending their runs.

"We planned a one stop from the beginning, but we never knew how bad was the wear and the degradation," he said.

"It is a new race for everybody. But yeah, I think it was quite well executed the race. The pitstop was fantastic. The team was great. The reliability of the car is superb, and you know they deserve it."

Alpine's 25-point haul in Qatar has now put the Enstone squad 25 points clear of AlphaTauri in the Constructors' standings, with the two teams sitting respectively fifth and sixth in the championship.

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