"In Bahrain, we were one minute behind the leaders, ninth and tenth and today we are on the podium, seven seconds behind Nico (Rosberg)," he said.
China was the very first race under the new reign of Marco Mattiacci, who was drafted in just last week to replace the suddenly-departed Stefano Domenicali.
But Alonso dedicated his result to Domenicali.
"I think this podium should be dedicated to Stefano, as everything we do up to July will also be the result of his efforts," he said.
Despite the podium, it was undoubtedly a tough weekend overall for Mattiacci, so tired after the surprising Maranello shakeup that he was seldom seen in the paddock without sunglasses.
He faces an uphill battle not only to earn the trust of Alonso, but also his new rivals.
When asked about the former Ferrari North America chief in Shanghai, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said: "I'd never heard of him before."