Fernando Alonso says his charge to fifth place in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix was "more or less as expected" after recording his best Formula 1 result since October 2016 to mark the beginning of the new McLaren-Renault partnership.

Despite qualifying 11th on Saturday, Alonso predicted "big points" for McLaren in Australia, and managed to capitalise on issues for cars ahead to come home fifth, having fought off Red Bull's Max Verstappen through the second half of the race.

P5 marked Alonso's best finish since the 2016 United States Grand Prix, but the Spaniard was not overly surprised by the result as McLaren made a flying start to life with new engine partner Renault after its winter split from Honda.

"I think it was more or less expected," Alonso said of his race. "We knew we had a strong race pace, better than qualifying. We capitalized on some of the problems the others had today.

"We had an attacking from Verstappen all the last 20 laps and we were able to defend. [I'm] happy, it was a great work by the team the integration of power unit in two or three months. We redesigned some parts of the car last winter.

"Now we are here, both cars in the points, fifth place, happy - a good starting point."

Alonso said on Thursday he expected Australia to mark the low point of McLaren's season as it adjusted to life with Renault power units, and he stressed once again after the race that there is more to come from the team across the course of the year.

"Definitely it's going to be better and better. There’s a lot of potential in the car still to be unlocked," Alonso said.

"As we said yesterday, it’s the first race with this combination - McLaren, Renault power unit - so a lot more to come.

"Hopefully from Bahrain, another step forward, and Red Bull will be the next target."

 

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