Fernando Alonso believes that seventh place was the best result he could achieve in Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix, but admitted that he thought a podium finish was in reach at one stage in the race.
Alonso qualified ninth at Marina Bay on Saturday before making a good start to rise into fifth place under the safety car.
The Spaniard was unable to hold back Sebastian Vettel or Max Verstappen later in the race, eventually crossing the line seventh to pick up six much-needed points for McLaren.
“Seventh was the maximum we could achieve today, the best of the rest after the two Mercedes, the two Red Bulls and the two Ferraris,” Alonso said.
“We weren’t perhaps quite the fourth-fastest team here this weekend, so it’s thanks to good strategy and a good start that we were able to bring home this result.
“I chose to go on the outside at the start, and the crash didn’t affect me as I was already up into sixth at that point. Then I braked very late for the first corner and got past Daniil [Kvyat] and Kimi [Raikkonen]. Everything went fine. Sometimes you just need to get lucky.”
Alonso admitted that he was even dreaming of a podium finish at one stage, something McLaren has not scored since the 2014 Australian Grand Prix.
“For a time, I was even hoping for a podium finish. If something had happened ahead of me it could have worked out that way,” Alonso said.
“But in fact it was one of those races in which nothing happened at the front.
“But, overall, we did the best we could today.”
Teammate Jenson Button got caught up in the first lap incident, suffering a broken front wing that dropped him to the back of the field before a further issue forced him to retire.
“I might have retired on lap 43, but, to be honest, my race was effectively over on the first lap,” Button said.
“I got a very good start and pulled alongside Valtteri [Bottas], but I didn’t see Nico’s [Hulkenberg] car coming across the track until he was right in front of me, facing the wrong way.
“I lifted and pulled to the right, but there wasn’t really anywhere to go, so I tagged Valtteri with my front wing. That broke my front wing, brake duct and floor.
“I pitted to change tires and fit a new front wing, but the car had been damaged, so I was lacking downforce for the remainder of the race. Even then, the downforce I did have wasn’t properly balanced across the car, which made it even more difficult.
“The reason we stopped was that we were concerned about the brakes – the temperatures were rising because of the duct damage. We were worried about a failure – it was the right decision to stop.”