Alonso could only manage 13th in qualifying after struggling with tyre warm-up in Q2, ending it over 0.9s slower than Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon.

The Spaniard looked back to his best on race day as a long first stint on the mediums, allowed him to switch to the hards late on and have a significant performance advantage over his nearest rivals.

Alonso spectacularly overtook Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz, as he went onto finish eighth at Portimao.

Reflecting on his afternoon, Alonso said: “It was good. It was fun. Yeah, we were fighting with one McLaren, one Ferrari, things that were unthinkable in Imola or Bahrain. So I think we make a very big step forward in terms of car performance.

“From free practice we were competitive. it remains a little bit of a mystery what happened yesterday. I could not feel the grip in the qualifying. I was not comfortable and probably that compromised a little bit my race but I will try to get better next Saturday on the qualifying.”

After a disappointing showing in qualifying, Alonso said he channelled the “anger” he felt into a strong race performance.

“A little bit yeah I agree on that,” Alonso replied when asked if he was back to ‘the gladiator of old’ at Portimao. “I think Bahrain I was more careful on everything just to complete the first Grand Prix. Imola I was so uncomfortable in the car with the conditions. I didn't feel good on the inters, the visibility.

“The qualifying was bad. So I think this is really the first race that I was extracting the maximum from the car. And yeah, I was upset after yesterday's qualifying. So today that anger was probably on track as well.”

Ocon continued his impressive form with seventh, having beaten Alonso in qualifying for the second race running.

“It’s been a strong race to have the car seventh and eighth, it’s pretty good,” Ocon added. “We were fighting with McLarens and Ferraris here, which wasn’t the case at all in the previous races.

“We need to keep that momentum going, keep improving the car and hopefully we can score some more points as well in Barcelona like that.”