Fernando Alonso hails Ferrari Formula 1 fightback

By Sarah HoltBBC Sport at Istanbul Park

Fernando Alonso was delighted with Ferrari's return to form at the Turkish Grand Prix and warned his rivals this is only the start of their comeback.

Alonso won the team's first podium finish of 2011, taking third place in Istanbul after a race-long battle with Red Bull's Mark Webber.

"This has to be only the first step to our recovery," said Alonso. "There is a lot more to come I am sure.

"We want to win races and now we need to move forward."

Alonso came within four points of winning the title last year but the Italian marque have seen rivals Red Bull and McLaren surge ahead in the first three races of the new campaign.

Alonso, who is the team's de facto number one driver, finished fourth in Australia but was then beaten on track by his team-mate Felipe Massa in Malaysia and China.

Ferrari heavily upgraded their stuttering car in Turkey, including adding a new front and rear wing, but it was not immediately obvious that they made the step forward as Alonso was beset by reliability problems in practice.

And after qualifying in fifth at Istanbul Park, Alonso was relieved by Ferrari's comeback on Sunday.

"We were in condition to be second in Malaysia," reflected Alonso, who won two world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006. "But I touched with Hamilton when he was passing for third.

"Here we had another opportunity and finally we took it. We had some issues on Friday but Saturday and Sunday were perfect for the team and for the strategy.

"I'm very, very happy. This is only the first step. First we need to be on the podium, which we did today, and then we need to move forward.

"It was a surprise for us to see McLaren so far behind [in qualifying] and to be in front of McLaren today and so the car is doing something better than the first few races.

"Fighting with Red Bull is not easy. We need to keep working and to understand this car and these tyres.

"We need to keep this direction, this improving line that we have started here.

"For a driver, this is not enough we cannot be happy with fifth in qualifying and third in the race.

"This has to be only the first step to our recovery and there is a lot more to come from us I'm sure."

Alonso's result in Turkey means he remains in fifth place in the championship, 52 points behind Red Bull's world champion and current leader Sebastian Vettel.

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said the team will now focus on improving the car's pace over one lap after witnessing its competitiveness over a race distance.

"We could not really show our race pace before but today we had the same lap time as Mark Webber and Vettel," Domenicali said.

"The outcome is that we need to improve in qualifying, starting [at the next race] in Spain.

"We need to maximise our aerodynamic development effort and the use of the exhaust system [which is] connected to the floor.

"I am expecting another step in the right direction because I don't think the others will stay still.

"This will be a challenging season but the pressure will also be on Red Bull's side to keep that level of performance - then with pressure comes mistakes."

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