Fernando Alonso admits that he thought his chances of a podium finish in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix had “gone” after Sergio Perez passed him on the penultimate lap.

Despite losing out to Lando Norris away from the line, Alonso took advantage of Charles Leclerc’s failure to start the race and his team-mate’s slow getaway to run third.

The Spaniard occupied that position during the closing stages amid relentless pressure from Perez, who eventually completed a move into Turn 1 on Lap 70 out of 71.

However, Perez was unable to move clear and a braking misjudgement into the first corner on the final tour allowed Alonso to sweep by again on the approach to Turn 4.

Alonso, who eventually pipped Perez by 0.053s, concedes that he believed he had lost a top-three finish once the Red Bull muscled its way past with one lap remaining.

“For me it was like 30 laps that I had the pressure from Checo,” he said. “When he passed me two laps to the end I thought okay, this is gone. The podium is not possible anymore.”

“But he braked a bit late into [Turn] 1 and I said : ‘Okay, I go for it into [Turn] 4’.”

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR23. 05.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Race Day.

Alonso’s third place marked his first podium appearance since August, with team-mate Lance Stroll following behind to deliver two Aston Martin cars inside the top five.

The result provides a welcome respite for the Silverstone squad, who had endured a torrid recent run that culminated with the team slipping to fifth in the standings.

“This is a phenomenal result for the team,” Alonso expressed. “We’ve been struggling for a couple of months already, especially the last two events with two retirements. So this podium is for them, for everyone in the factory. We keep fighting until the last lap.”

He added: “Obviously we’re still learning about the car. These cars are so complex aerodynamically. So we’ve been experimenting a little bit to find the direction for next year without forgetting this year that we’re still competing so happy for the result and now to [Las] Vegas.”

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