Fernando Alonso said he had fun during Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix after charging into the top 10 early on, only to retire from the race after 33 laps as McLaren’s Formula 1 woes continued.
A miserable pre-season marred by numerous issues with the Honda power unit made Alonso’s flirtation with a top-10 finish in Australia a surprise for McLaren, as was his charge to 13th in qualifying on Saturday in China.
Alonso made the most of the tricky conditions in the early part of the race to battle up the order, running as high as sixth before the track dried and the pace deficit to the rest of the field became clear once again.
Alonso was able to remain inside the top 10 until he was forced to retire from the race after 33 laps with a suspected driveshaft issue, marking his second straight DNF.
When asked by NBCSN if he had fun in the race, Alonso said: “Yeah definitely. We started P13 in very tricky conditions, and we were running P6 after three laps, so yeah.
“I was hoping for stable conditions as they were, because people were spinning off here and there. We maximized our opportunities and when the track was drying up, we started to lose a little bit of ground, but we remained P7, which obviously we were completely out of position.”
Alonso was disappointed that the Honda power unit’s reliability means McLaren cannot yet think about having a clean weekend, putting this down to its lack of running in pre-season testing.
“As we said yesterday, every opportunity that will be there, we will take it. Today we proved once more how hungry we are about getting the result,” Alonso said.
“Unfortunately we are not strong enough to finish the race still. I think the lack of winter testing is a big price that we are paying now. But we will try to improve as soon as possible.”