Fernando Alonso optimistic for rest of 2013 season after 'fantastic' Chinese GP win
Spaniard admits he could even afford to keep speed in hand
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 14/04/13 12:32pm
A jubilant Fernando Alonso has admitted the start to Ferrari's title challenge was "looking good" after claiming a brilliant first win of the season in the Chinese GP.
The double World Champion took control of the race early on in Shanghai once he got past Lewis Hamilton prior to the first stops and thereafter steadily pulled away from both the Mercedes driver and Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen.
Indeed, Alonso, executing a three-stop strategy to perfection, ultimately enjoyed a winning margin of ten seconds to secure the 31st victory of his career but the first for 13 races dating back to last July.
And having arrived in Shanghai on the back of rare questions over his form after four consecutive qualifying defeats by team-mate Felipe Massa and a first-lap mistake at Sepang, Alonso acknowledged the result was particularly timely.
"It was a fantastic race for us from the start to the end with no big problems on the car," the Spaniard said on the podium.
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"The tyre degradation was better than we expected probably so we managed more or less the pace. It feels great.
"After the retirement in Malaysia we had some pressure to finish the race but the two races we finish this year, one second place and today the victory, so definitely the start of this 2013 campaign is looking good. We are very optimistic."
With neither the Lotus nor Mercedes able to keep pace with him from the second stint onwards, Alonso confessed he could even afford to keep some speed in hand during the remainder of the race.
"You always push. In a Formula 1 race it is impossible not to push, but it is true we maybe had some pace in the pocket but it's difficult to know when to use it depending on the state of the tyres," he added.
"So a little bit more potential [was still there] but hopefully we can show it in Bahrain in one week."
With a short turnaround to the fourth round of the campaign in Bahrain, Ferrari should have the perfect chance to capitalise on what currently appears a competitive all-round package.
And while characteristically keen to avoid getting ahead of himself, Alonso did acknowledge that the F138's race performance in both Australia and now Shanghai boded well for Sakhir.
"We expect a tough race again," he said. "In Bahrain we will maybe see some different conditions, who knows how competitive anyone can be? But as I said before, definitely the races that we finished this year the car seems to be capable of finishing on the podium so we hope to be on the podium again in Bahrain."