Fernando Alonso: Drive from last to seventh in Belgium was 'unthinkable'

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SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium - After driving from last to first at the Belgian Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso hailed McLaren's recent progress, stating such a result would have been "unthinkable" even a few weeks ago.

Alonso's prospects of a point looked bleak ahead of the race, with a 60-place grid penalty for multiple engine penalties across the weekend consigning him to the back of the grid. A chaotic start and opening six laps helped Alonso move up the field and, when the race was red-flagged on lap 11 following Kevin Magnussen's massive crash at Eau Rouge, he had moved up to fourth.

After the restart, Alonso quickly lost a place to Lewis Hamilton but held station after that, only dropping from fifth in the closing stages as he was caught and passed by Sebastian Vettel and Sergio Perez. The Spaniard thinks the result shows the progress McLaren and Honda are making every week.

"The progress of the team in the last months is just amazing," Alonso said after the race. It would have been impossible to imagine this a couple of weeks or months ago. We are in the right direction. That is for sure.

"For sure to fight for P7 is still not what we want. But if we keep that momentum for next year, that will be great news. I am optimist for the future. And now we are coming to tracks that are less complicated. Except Monza, which is really a difficult track for us."

Though happy to concede he was fortunate to keep himself out of trouble in a dramatic race, Alonso thinks it was about time his luck changed after a weekend littered with power unit troubles.

"Today everything went well, all the bad luck we had all weekend became good luck today, I managed to avoid all the accidents, we were lucky with the red flag, as could get a free pit stop and put new tyres on.

"To start 22nd and finish 7th is a great result and for us to fight with Williams and other teams is a bit new, especially in a circuit that didn't favor our car. Getting into Q3 with Jenson yesterday and getting into the points with me today shows the team has done a good job."