Fernando Alonso proved a happy man after Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix. The Spaniard finished 7th, having progressed through the field, before holding off competitors that would otherwise expected to be much quicker than the McLaren Honda package.
“It was an exciting race to drive and I had a good feeling throughout", Alonso said.
“We had good pace this weekend; we did better than expected on this track; we were in the top 10 with Jenson yesterday in qualifying; and we’ve scored points today.
“Believe me: a few months ago that would have been unthinkable on a circuit like this. That’s progress – real progress.
“And, after all the bad luck we’ve had so far this weekend, we finally got some good luck today. We started last, but we managed to keep away from all the incidents, gain some positions thanks to the Safety Car and then a couple more because of the red flag.
“We then put on fresh tyres and found ourselves in fourth place – and, better still, we had the pace to manage the situation afterwards.
“Okay, we couldn’t hold back Lewis [Hamilton], Checo [Perez] or Seb [Vettel], because they were just too fast, but we had enough pace to keep Valtteri [Bottas] behind all the way to the flag."
Alonso proved consistent, and had the upper hand on Hamilton early on in the race as well, underlining how McLaren is making progress on the chassis side, and how Honda's repeated upgrade steps are paying off.
As a result, the team have now also surpassed Toro Rosso in the Constructors' standings, thanks to the fact that Toro Rosso losing pace compared to the rest of the fast as they run last year's Ferrari engine, and cannot expect any updates on that front in the remaining of the season.
“Finally, it’s great news that we overtook Toro Rosso in the Constructors’ World Championship – I think we can be regularly in the points from now on.
“So, to sum up, this weekend we saw evidence of very good progress from the team; we’re moving in the right direction, that’s for sure.”