Fernando Alonso admits that it was a strange feeling to be able to overtake a Ferrari during the Bahrain Grand Prix, even if he still missed out on a first point score of 2015.

The Spaniard came home eleventh in Sakhir after a more promising showing from the McLaren team that had allowed him to make it into Q2 for the first time on Saturday evening. Just as the improvement stopped short of allowing Alonso to progress into the pole position shoot-out, however, so it prevented him from scoring McLaren's first points of its new relationship with Honda, as the double world champion came up four seconds shy of catching Felipe Massa for tenth.

"At the end of the day, we were not fast enough to be in the top ten, but we finished the race and we got some experience again on the car," Alonso admitted, "Obviously, as Jenson [Button] could not start the race, it was important for us to do as many laps as possible and to get the extra experience. Now we have three weeks at home to prepare and to increase the performance and the reliability because we knew that it is not good enough."

"With Jenson not starting, we missed that information and it's also sad for the guys, the mechanics and for him. I'm optimistic for the future because the steps are going in the right direction, but we are realistic - a lot of things need to be done."

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Despite his matter-of-fact outlook, Alonso reported that the recalcitrant MP4-30 continues to improve after four rounds, allowing him to tackle new foes in Bahrain.

"It is feeling better and, today, we ran competitively and finished ahead of Sauber," he pointed out, "We were fighting with Toro Rosso and with Red Bull, so it's definitely a step forward, but we have to put many things in place and the coming weeks are important to improve the performance. Spain is my home grand prix and Monaco is a less power effect circuit, so I think interesting races are coming for us. We have to be focused and maximise them."

The passing of a Ferrari came as Alonso unlapped himself rather than in direct competition, and provided a rare moment of amusement for the Spaniard as he watches the team he left last winter continue to provide the biggest threat to Mercedes.

"I had new tyres, so it was a little bit easy, but it was a strange moment of the race," he conceded, "Hopefully, we can fight for top positions [in the future], not only for this battle."