RESULTS: Malaysian Grand Prix – Race results
Fernando Alonso feels McLaren-Honda fully deserves its first double points finish since Monaco at the Malaysian GP as he celebrated another fine charge into the top ten from the back of the grid.
Having demonstrated strong top ten pace during Friday's practice session, Alonso nonetheless had his work cut out in the Sepang race from last position after landing a hefty 45-place grid penalty due to Honda introducing new components to his power unit.
Taking full advantage from Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg's first turn incident, which in turn caught out other drivers directly behind in the ensuing concertina effect, Alonso was already inside the top ten by lap four and benefitted further from a well-timed Virtual Safety Car
POINTS: F1 World Championship Standings after the Malaysian GP
Indeed, McLaren's plan was originally aggressive as Alonso had a store of three brand new sets of soft compound tyres, but it would revert to a more conventional strategy with the hard compound tyre to reflect its loftier than expected running position.
“Things went well today,” Alonso said. “I was a bit lucky with the last Virtual Safety Car because we could do the final tyre change without losing places. Also, at the start, I managed to avoid all the cars but I couldn't see much because Rosberg was spinning and there was a lot of smoke. With all that going on we managed to gain quite a few positions during the first lap.”
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Climbing all the way to seventh – mirroring his result from Spa when he also started on the back row -, Alonso was delighted to deliver an unexpectedly positive performance from humble origins.
“I think we were a bit caught by surprise when we found ourselves in points scoring positions right after the start. We were fifth in FP1 and seventh in FP2, but with the penalty we had to start last, so we deserved a lucky break after everything we've gone through over the last two years. The car had a good pace until the end of the race, I could keep [Nico] Hulkenberg behind me with no problems and I was attacking Sérgio [Perez].
“I'm happy but there's still a lot of work to do. In the end we decided to go on the attack and everything went our way.”
The result lifts Alonso into the top ten of the overall standings for the first time this year.
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