A third-place finish in the Turkish Grand Prix has Fernando Alonso feeling better about the prospects of his Ferrari this Formula One season.
Alonso not seeing red in his Ferrari
ISTANBUL // Gone were the problems paralysing Fernando Alonso's Ferrari and gone was the scowl on the Spaniard's brow as the two-time world champion captured his team's first podium of the new season at Istanbul Park yesterday.
Alonso, who essentially lost the world title in Abu Dhabi last year after being unable to pass Renault's Vitaly Petrov around the Yas Marina Circuit, has struggled in the first three races of the new season and was outpaced by his teammate Felipe Massa in both Malaysia and China.
However, having finished third behind the Red Bull Racing pair of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber at the Turkish Grand Prix, the former Renault driver believes the result could be the start of a red resurgence.
"I'm very, very happy, but this is only the first step," he said. "First we need to be on the podium, which we are, and then we need to move forward.
"This has to be only the first step to our recovery. There is a lot more to come. We want to win races and now we need to move forward.
"We were in condition to be second in Malaysia, but I touched with [Lewis] Hamilton when he was passing for third. Here we had another opportunity and finally we took it. We had some issues on Friday, but Saturday and Sunday were perfect for the team and for the strategy."
Alonso was on course to finish second until, with five laps remaining, Webber performed a glorious manoeuvre to complete a one-two finish for Christian Horner's constructors' champions, but the Spaniard, who won the drivers' title in 2005 and 2006, was unconcerned about the late setback.
"We lost a position, but it is OK. Fighting with Red Bull is not easy, but hopefully next time we will be able to try again," said Alonso, who finished more than half a minute ahead of fourth-placed Hamilton.
"It was a surprise for us to see McLaren so far behind [in qualifying] and to be in front of McLaren in the race. The car is doing something better than the first few races.
"We need to keep this direction, this improving line that we have started here, because, for a driver, this is not enough. We cannot be happy with fifth in qualifying and third in the race."
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari's team principal, urged his team to "definitely not get carried away" despite their encouraging showing.
"It's been a very long time since we last saw one of our drivers on the podium, but the road is still very long and there is a very long way to go to where we want to be," he said.
"At least we have shown we have started off down the right road."