Fernando Alonso: McLaren upgrade is making me happy

Esteban Ocon's Spain simulation (0:54)

Force India's Esteban Ocon reveals his love of racing simulators as he takes on a virtual lap of the Spanish Grand Prix. (0:54)

BARCELONA, Spain -- Fernando Alonso was in an optimistic mood about McLaren's upgraded car after progressing to Q3 for the first time in 2018 ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

Alonso took the papaya orange car, featuring a radical front nose design which has turned heads in the paddock this week, into the top-ten shootout in front of his home crowd. He will line up eighth for Sunday's grand prix and he declared it a reason to be happy with the team's new package.

"I'm happy with that, definitely," Alonso said. "P8 I think is a good position. P13 in the last three qualifying, so definitely a step forward. Probably the downside of this position is still the gap with the top six, they are in another league and we need to keep chasing and crossing that gap race after race.

"Everything we bring to the track is delivering the expectations and the lap times that we were expecting from them. So that's a positive thing, the correlation with the factory. So yeah, we just need more new parts as soon as possible."

Despite sitting fourth in the championship, thanks in a large part to Alonso's consistent visits to the top ten, McLaren is a team under pressure to deliver a proper step forward with its new upgrade. Alonso still finished behind Kevin Magnussen in the Haas, which still appears to be the fastest car in the midfield, and the two-time world champion is keen to see McLaren keep pushing.

"I think this package is making me happy. In another way this car, let's say, is supposed to be at the Australian Grand Prix package. But it's here in the Spanish Grand Prix. So that delay on the first improvement, and having it not in the first race but here, probably put us in a difficult position in the first couple of races. We saved them with a lot of points on Sundays, a little bit of luck and good races. But from now on, we need to push the development and bring new parts every single race.