Despite McLaren-Honda's expectations to be challenging for points in China, Fernando Alonso says he simply didn't have a pace to stay inside the top ten after the first-lap melees jumbled up the running order.
Both the Spaniard and his team-mate Jenson Button enjoyed long stints running in points-paying positions but missed out late on as quicker cars found their rhythm in the strategy shake-up to push the McLaren cars to 12th and 13th respectively.
Alonso says the team can take away a flawless race in terms of reliability but is still lacking performance with its MP4-31 which saw him slip down the order.
“You're always disappointed when you don't finish in the points, we expected a bit more today,” Alonso said. “For sure we expected to be in the top ten but that was not possible today.
“No one had any issues today, whereas in the race I watched from the pit all there were car parts all over the track, big chaos in the first lap, but here I was expecting more of that but nothing happened.
“Everyone finished the race and we weren't quick enough to finish inside the top ten. We have to improve for the next race but for sure the safety car didn't help us as it didn't help most of the front-runners.”
Alonso explained his planned two-stop strategy hamstrung his efforts when his rivals were effectively handed a free stop in safety car conditions but has reiterated his belief that he may have still missed out on the top ten without the mid-race pause.
The two-time F1 world champion also says he takes away a big positive with his first race finish of the year after his huge smash in Australia which ruled him out of the second race in Bahrain.
“I'm happy I was back in the car and I finished the race, as in Australia I couldn't finish because of the accident and I didn't get to race in Bahrain,” he said. “This was the first race for me, the first time I did 50-odd consecutive laps in the car, as in testing or in Australia I didn't run that much, so this will be useful for the future.
“When we did the preparatory laps before going to the grid I was in more pain [with his ribs] than on Saturday, so I was a bit worried. But during the race – I don't know if it's because of the adrenalin, the thrill of racing or whatever – I didn't feel a thing.”