McLaren hails 'competitive animal' Alonso after Brazil points finish

Fernando Alonso's drive to eighth place in the Brazilian Grand Prix highlighted what a "competitive animal" the Spaniard is, according to the McLaren Formula One team.

Despite McLaren lagging at the bottom of the speed traps throughout the weekend, Alonso impressed to qualify seventh in Brazil. He started from sixth -- a season-best grid slot for McLaren -- after Daniel Riccardo's engine penalty had been applied.

Alonso ran as high as fifth place on the opening lap but was quickly passed by local hero Felipe Massa, before losing further ground to the recovering Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull. A late charge saw the McLaren driver catch up to the back of Massa, but he was unable to find a way past his former Ferrari teammate on the run to the flag.

"Fernando's performance was a timely reminder of just what a competitive animal he remains," McLaren racing director Eric Boullier said. "When he was given the green-light from the strategists to attack Massa, he was utterly relentless, driving each lap as if it were a qualifying lap, and narrowing the gap on a lap-by-lap basis.

"Even if pulling off an overtake might have been tricky, given the limitations of our package, that did nothing to deter him, and I'm sure he could have made it happen given a handful more laps. It was a fantastic display of controlled, hard driving, a fantastic spectacle to watch, and, I'm sure, terrific fun in the cockpit."

Alonso conceded he had no hope of reclaiming the position from Massa -- who was contesting his final Brazilian Grand Prix -- but hailed McLaren's performance in Brazil as one of the team's strongest weekends this season.

"It was one of our best weekends," Alonso said. "I had a fantastic car throughout the whole race, but, ultimately, I just could not overtake. Once there was the re-start Massa passed me and there was nothing I could do.

"After that we knew Hamilton and Ricciardo were going to be unstoppable. This 8th place feels glorious -- we lost a lot of points because of small details, lack of reliability and so on, but it's a good reward for the team to get a few points."