Fernando Alonso maintains that he still had to work to secure victory in last year's Singapore Grand Prix, despite motorsport's governing body determining this week that he was handed the success by the underhand tactics of his Renault team.
Preparing to defend his victory in the second running of F1's original night race, Alonso naturally faced a barrage of questions relating to the 2008 event, in which he overcame a qualifying problem to convert 15th on the grid into victory courtesy of a timely safety car intervention. Although it was confirmed this week that Renault had instructed team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr to deliberately crash his car in order to trigger the caution period, Alonso insists that there was more to securing victory than being able to vault to the front of the field as his rivals were caught out.
"I regard it as a win," the double world champion told Reuters
, clearly aggravated by the constant focus on events of a year ago, "My interpretation of events is how could I win the race. [Piquet's crash] was in the very early stages of the race, which still had a long way to go. The car was performing well and I didn't make any mistakes."
Alonso has always maintained that he was unaware of the machinations being devised to give the team victory at a time when its future in F1 was under threat but, while the FIA World Motor Sport Council agreed that he had played no witting part in the scandal, team boss Flavio Briatore and director of engineering Pat Symonds received lengthy bans from the sport. Both men walked the plank prior to Monday's hearing in Paris, saving the team - which decided not to contest the allegations - from receiving more than a two-year suspended sentence.
"I was happy to collaborate with the FIA at the meeting, and am also happy that everything is clear that I was not involved in what happened," Alonso admitted, "That's now in the past and it's time to move on. It's Singapore 2009 not 2008. It's good that the team can put this behind us and can concentrate on the future.
"[I have] nothing to validate and nothing to prove. The only thing that really matters to me now is this weekend. I will be preparing for this race and will not be looking back, only forward."