Fernando Alonso has revealed that he wasn't considering settling for second place in the Bahrain Grand Prix, even before it became apparent that Sebastian Vettel had a mechanical problem.

The Spaniard had put himself in prime position to benefit from any mistake or gremlin to beset the polesitter after passing Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa in turns one and two, but initially had to watch, powerless, as Vettel pulled out a sizeable lead. However, after both the Scuderia and Red Bull Racing had switched their respective charges to the hard Bridgestone tyre, Alonso and Massa had a clear pace advantage over the German and were able to reel him back in.

Even as the winter rule changes, which were designed to make the racing more exciting, failed to live up to expectation, Alonso insisted that he was pushing hard to catch - and ultimately pass - the leader, when Vettel's engine went sick, dropping the Red Bull back to fourth.

"I was thinking of winning the race at that time," the double world champion maintained, "I knew that it was a very difficult thing to do, overtaking Vettel, but I was waiting for the opportunity. I knew that our car maybe manages the tyres in very good way, we saw that in the winter, so I was getting some relaxed laps behind him and then maybe waiting for the last ten laps to attack.

"Then we were lucky with Vettel's problem [which allowed us] to overtake a little bit earlier and win the race but, in all victories, you need some luck and this one was lucky as well."

Alonso confirmed that it had been hard to match Vettel's pace as both started the race on the softer of the two tyre options - having run them to secure advantageous grid positions in qualifying - but said that Ferrari was already looking into the relative tyre data to see where it could improve.

"We need to see many things from the race, we need to analyse, but it's true that, with the soft tyre, it was difficult to follow Vettel," he conceded, "I was doing my maximum and it was impossible, but then it was a little bit easier to follow him with the prime, when I was pushing, maybe not 100 per cent, but 99. We need to see the reasons for that - maybe he already started to have some problems with the prime, so maybe it wasn't tyre-related. Maybe it was something with his car, that he already had a problem from the beginning of the second stint.

"We knew that we had to do qualifying with the soft as they were quicker. I did a lap so-so in Q3, but it was good enough to be in the fight. Then we have been really open in terms of our strategy, but switching to the prime was also switching to unknown territory as we did not know how many laps the prime would do in good shape. However, the car was so good that it managed the tyre very well and we finished the race with the perfect condition.

"I had some pace in my pocket [in the middle of the race], but I was concentrating on managing the tyres. We knew that we had to do 35 or 36 laps with them , and I was waiting for the time to attack Vettel, maybe the last ten or twelve laps. But then, suddenly, he had a car problem and he was dropping [back to us]."

Despite being clearly overjoyed to have taken a win first time out with Ferrari, however, Alonso insisted that, as a psychological blow to his rivals, it probably meant less.

"I think it is not very important, and I always repeat the same thing - that the first three or four races of the championship are not, in my opinion, crucial for anything," he claimed, "You just need to take some solid points for the team, to get used to the new regulations, to understand a little bit better the tyres, the races... At the end, it depends on how competitive your car is to you getting more or less points but, from a driver's point of view, it is not a crucial part.

"It is nice to be here, first position, but to be honest this is thanks to a fantastic car we had. We have been a little bit better than the others in the first race, so we managed to finish first and second, but I think the key to being world champion will be the development during the season. We have a very good base, but we need to keep working.

"This is only the start., there are things to improve in the car, for sure. There's not a perfect car in the world. I think we have a good enough car to start the season, a very competitive car in all conditions - low fuel, heavy fuel - but we are working in two or three areas in which we know we need to improve."