Alonso 'a little bit' the 'gladiator of old' as 'anger' drives Portimao charge

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Fernando Alonso agrees he found "a little bit" of the "gladiator of old" during his charge to P8 at the Portuguese Grand Prix.

After a better performance throughout practice at Portimao, the double world champion was left "annoyed" by his drop in performance that left him only 13th on the grid after qualifying.

However, on race day, the 39-year-old did turn back the clock with a recovery that saw him cross the finish line just one second behind Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon, who had started seven places ahead of him.

“A little bit yeah I agree on that,” Alonso replied to Sky Sports on if he was once again ‘the gladiator of old’ on Sunday.

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“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.

“Qualifying [in Portugal] 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.”

No doubt also motivating Alonso was an Alpine car that proved itself as a solid top 10 runner in Portugal.

“It was good. It was fun," he reflected.

"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.”

As for teammate Ocon, it was a solid enough drive from the Frenchman, who couldn't quite keep pace with Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc ahead.

“It’s been a strong race to have the car seventh and eighth, it’s pretty good,” he said. “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.”

After Sunday, Alpine now sit fifth in the Constructors' standings, albeit some 29 points behind Ferrari in fourth.