Fernando Alonso says he is looking forward to the second half of the season with renewed optimism after reckoning he had a car quick enough for a podium finish in the German Grand Prix.
Although a mistake in qualifying left the Renault driver languishing in 12th spot on the grid, the Spaniard managed to haul himself up to seventh place by the finish -- setting the fastest lap of the race in his closing stint.
Speaking after the race, Alonso was encouraged by what he had seen – although well aware that his prospects for the race had been hurt by starting so far down the field.
"It is definitely a step forward," said the Spaniard. "I'm quite happy with the race but there is a little bit of frustration because two points is not enough for us.
"It doesn't make a lot of difference but we had the potential today to be maybe on the podium because we have been quicker than the Ferraris all weekend and Felipe is third. So I am quite optimistic and confident for the coming races."
Alonso believes a host of upgrades to the car introduced at the Nurburgring, including a new front wing, engine cover and modified floor, helped lift the performance of the team.
"Definitely we improved the car," said Alonso. "Sometimes you make some steps in the car and you cannot really feel it and the positions remain more or less the same, but it seems this weekend the parts we put on really work and finally we did a step forward."
Alonso believes that the team must deliver more performance in qualifying especially, well aware of how difficult it can be to get past cars in the race.
"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," he said.
"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."