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Page last updated at 18:31 GMT, Sunday, 12 July 2009 19:31 UK

Upbeat Alonso chases podium spots

Fernando Alonso
Two-time world champion Alonso is still considered one of F1's best drivers

By Andrew Benson
BBC Sport at Nurburgring

Renault's Fernando Alonso believes he will be a podium contender for the rest of the season after a much-improved performance at the German Grand Prix.

The Spaniard was restricted to seventh after spending much of the race in traffic but the pace of his updated car was clear when he set the fastest lap.

"It's definitely a step forward," the double world champion told BBC Sport.

"We had the potential to be on the podium. We've been quicker than Ferrari all weekend and Massa was third."

Renault brought a new front wing to the Nurburgring and Alonso said it had made a big difference to the performance of the car.

He was among the front-runners in the early stages of qualifying, but he spun in the mixed conditions and failed to get into the top 10 shoot-out.

I got fastest lap - that's very positive

Fernando Alonso

But once he had cleared some slower cars in the race, he was the fastest driver on the track in the closing stages and was pushing the two championship-leading Brawn cars in the final laps.

"I got fastest lap - that's very positive," he said. "I'm quite happy with the race. There's a little bit of frustration because two points is not enough for us, but I am quite optimistic and confident for the coming races.

"We need to concentrate on Saturday, to be in the top five, top six in qualifying and then after that I think the race pace is good enough to keep those positions.

"If we are qualifying 10th, we are out of position in the race because we are quicker than the cars in front of us but we have traffic. Hopefully in Budapest we can improve Saturday."

Alonso added: "The improvement is down to the new parts. We have definitely improved the car. Sometimes you make some changes to the car and you cannot really feel it and the positions remains more or less the same.

"But it seems this weekend the parts we used really work and finally we did a step forward."



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