Fernando Alonso conceded his battle with Sebastian Vettel in the Chinese Grand Prix was not a fair fight given the Formula 1 world championship leader was running in a damaged Ferrari. 

The McLaren driver caught Vettel at a rapid rate in the closing stages of Sunday’s rate and passed the German with a bold move down the inside at the exit of Turn 2 to snatch seventh place on the penultimate lap. 

Vettel had fallen down the order after being pitched into a spin by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and struggled for pace as it became apparent he had floor damage on his Ferrari, as Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg surged past for sixth without facing much resistance. 

“We had good battles with Haas and Ferrari, even though the latter wasn’t really a fair fight as Sebastian [Vettel] apparently had damage on his car and was struggling in the corners,” Alonso said. “We caught up with him, saw that the door was open in one corner, so we went for it.”

"I was very vulnerable so he could have passed me another time," Vettel said when asked about his late squabble with Alonso. "I think the way he dived in was now or never, and I obviously had to back off otherwise we would have just crashed. I was just happy to finish.”

While Alonso was pleased McLaren was able to secure a solid points finish for the third consecutive race in 2018, the Spaniard insists the Woking-based squad still has significant improvements to make performance-wise. 

“It was a well-executed race from our side – P13 at the start and P11 after the first lap. The Safety Car didn’t play into our hands as we were on a one-stop strategy and we’d just pitted onto good, fresh tyres which were going to take us to the end, but the Safety Car gave everyone else the opportunity to pit. 

“P7 is a great result for the team after a difficult weekend, but there’s no doubt that we have to improve. Our pace wasn’t there all weekend and we were still not fast enough in the race.”