SHANGHAI (AP) — Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso said his struggling team is "still in the fight" after he finally got on the podium for the first time this season, finishing third at the Chinese Grand Prix.
It's been a slow start to the season for Ferrari, which has not adapted as quickly as runaway leaders Mercedes to the new fuel-efficient six-cylinder engines introduced to the sport this year.
At the Bahrain GP two weeks ago, Alonso and teammate Kimi Raikkonen could manage no better than ninth- and 10th-place finishes, respectively. Days later, the team parted ways with principal Stefano Domenicali after six years.
But Ferrari has made improvements on the car since then, giving at least Alonso a boost in Shanghai under the watch of new team principal Marco Mattiacci.
"We felt more competitive and now in the race being here on the podium is some kind of surprise for us, a nice surprise, finally," he said. "We didn't have the start of the season that we would like but at the end of the day, we're still in the fight."
Alonso, who was the defending Chinese GP champion, said he's reaching the same comfort level in the car that he had in 2012 when he finished just three points behind Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' championship.