Fernando Alonso said he considered the real possibility of finishing on the podium for the first time since returning to the McLaren fold after climbing into the top five in the Monaco Grand Prix, but soon realised there would be no dream ending to his race.
The Spaniard had made it through to the final phase of qualifying on Saturday, but was denied the chance to make up quick positions in the race when persistent heavy rain left organisers with no option but to start behind the safety car. Once the field was unleashed, however, a combination of canny experience and good strategy when it came to making the necessary tyre changes saw Alonso rise from his initial ninth place into the top five, running just ahead of championship leader Nico Rosberg.
In the rarefied air of fifth, the double world champion briefly allowed himself to visualize a return to one of the most iconic podiums of all, particularly as the remaining cars still had to contend with a single dry line, but equally quickly disabused himself of the notion.
“At one point, I thought that maybe a podium was possible,” Alonso confessed, “After the pit-stop, I was P5, and still with 50 laps to go with tricky conditions. I said 'if I keep it on the track and [there are] two DNFs in front of me, maybe it's a possible'. So I thought about the podium possibility for one second and then it was not possible.”
Having kept the more potent Mercedes of Rosberg at bay for more than the second half of the 78-lap race, Alonso admitted to having mixed emotions as he climbed from the cockpit.
“I enjoyed it because the result is good and, when you execute a race as difficult as this one, it's a good feeling,” he explained, “But the race was quite tough in terms of driving and concentration. We started behind the safety car with not much visibility, then we switch it for the inter tyres which, having had obviously zero laps in wet conditions over the weekend, was an unknown territory for everyone.
“Then, when we switched for the dry [tyre], it was a very narrow line. One metre of the track was dry so, if you put half a centimetre out of that dry, you crash. There is no room for mistakes, so it was a very tough race but, at the end, we got the result and both cars in the points, so we have to be happy.”