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Fernando Alonso: Qatar Grand Prix podium finish shows I’m on ‘another level’ compared to start of season

The 40-year-old finished third at the first ever edition of the race

Alex Pattle
Monday 22 November 2021 13:54
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Lewis Hamilton wins inaugural Qatar Formula One Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso has said his podium finish at the Qatar Grand Prix showed he is on “another level” compared to when he made his Formula 1 comeback at the start of the season.

Alonso finished third for Alpine on Sunday in the first ever edition of the Qatar GP, marking his first podium place since 2014.

The Spaniard won back-to-back F1 titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, later leaving the sport in 2018 after his second spell with McLaren.

Alonso returned to F1 at the start of this season and joined Alpine, and the 40-year-old finished third behind title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen on Sunday, having qualified fifth but seeing his grid place improve after a penalty for Verstappen.

“Probably as a weekend in general, this one was the best [of the season] as Friday, Saturday, Sunday was very consistent,” Alonso said.

“Sochi was quite well executed as well, only the rain at the end stopped us from the podium there.

“The last part of this 2021 is another level compared to the first part. I’m happy with this year of comeback and this preparation into next year is definitely another level now.

“It feels good. It is obviously a long wait from the last podium, 2014, so I’m happy for this one,” Alonso continued.

“It was a long wait. Your career sometimes goes up and down. I had wonderful moments, two or three years ago, winning Le Mans, winning the World Endurance Championship et cetera, but coming back [to F1] now in preparation for 2022 and the new rules and to have this podium now at the end of the year feels really nice.

“I think we are more ready than what we were 10 months ago.”

Next up is the Saudi Arabian GP on Sunday 5 December, before the season finale in Abu Dhabi on 12 December.

Hamilton, who won the Qatar GP from pole position, trails championship leader Verstappen by eight points heading into the final two races of the year.

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