Monaco Grand Prix winner Fernando Alonso reckons there is more to come from him this season, after admitting that he was still only 90 per cent au fait with his car.

The Spaniard headed a McLaren 1-2 around the streets of the Principality, leading from start to finish apart from the vagaries of the various strategies, but admitted to throttling back to preserve the car in the closing stages, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton playing rear-gunner to the chequered flag. The victory completed a hat-trick for the weekend, having also taken pole and fastest lap, and elevated Alonso back into a share of the championship lead.

"It has been a fantastic weekend, no doubt," he said, "To score this hat-trick is something very special - and even more so here in Monaco. I enjoyed today's race so much, with a perfect car all through. It means a lot, psychologically and also for the championship battle."

Asked if the performance underlined his growing confidence with the 2007 McLaren-Mercedes package, Alonso admitted that, while it came close, there was still more that he had to learn.

"I am very happy and I am very confident with the car now," he said, "I think I am 90 per cent. For sure, I need to learn more about the car and the tyres, but this race was very important for me because I learned some good things about the tyres - how they behave all through the stint, and how to drive them all through the stint as well. But every time I am in the car, I am improving as well. I am quite happy, but there is still more to come I hope."

Although Hamilton appeared intent on slotting in behind the double world champion, Alonso reckoned that converting pole into an early lead was vital, particularly as he was then able to pull away from the Briton in the opening stint.

"The start was not particularly special - I think the reaction time was not great and maybe I lost a little bit at the beginning - but I knew that there is a very short distance between the pits and the first corner, so I knew that it was nearly impossible to lose first position there," he admitted, "I just covered myself into the first corner and, from then on, I tried to push a little bit and open up a gap."

As always, traffic was a concern for both the front two, with Alonso losing a lot of his advantage after catching a train of cars squabbling over the minor positions.

"I had maybe a little bit less graining than the other cars in the first stint and was able to open up a gap, but, approaching my stop lap at the first stop, I caught [Jarno] Trulli and was three laps behind [him], going two seconds a lap slower," he reflected, "It was unbelievable. I was nine seconds ahead and suddenly I was three seconds ahead.

"That was the most difficult part, especially in the key moments of the race because, if this happened in the middle of the stint, you are able to open a gap after that and approach the pit-stop time with a nice gap. But I had a nine or ten second lead on lap 17 and, on lap 18, I had three seconds, so that was a little bit difficult, because I was so happy with the nine seconds and a little bit worried with three."

Conversely, however, Alonso insisted that he wasn't as concerned about seeing his lead whittled away in the final stint of the race.

"I think, after we stopped, we just cruised to the end, just bringing the cars safely home, there was nothing more to do," he explained, "After pitting, Lewis and I kept the first two positions and I just slowed down. I tried to take care of the tyres - maybe we were just a little bit worried about the supersoft having some graining - so I took it very easy in the first four or five laps of that stint. But I knew that, even if a car behind you is 0.5secs quicker, it will probably never overtake you here."

Asked if Hamilton would have been allowed to challenge him for the win, Alonso admitted that the only battle came from keeping his car on the track.

"It's always a fight, because you are not able to make any mistakes," he noted, "You cannot go wide in a corner, you cannot miss one of the chicanes, braking too late. It's always more the pushing from the guy behind if he's that close. But, in a way, to have that battle in Monaco is a little bit easier for the first guy, because it's a little bit easier to maintain position."

 

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