Double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso was so enthusiastic about the pace and potential of his Ferrari after coming through from virtually last to finish less than two seconds from the podium in this weekend's 2010 Australian Grand Prix, that he opined that with a 'perfect' car, 'now there is the possibility that you can win the race even starting last'.
Alonso's hopes of victory might have been undone within seconds of the lights going out in Melbourne when he found himself caught in a pincer-movement between the McLaren-Mercedes of Jenson Button on the inside and the Mercedes Grand Prix of Michael Schumacher on the outside, with the resulting contact pitching him into a spin and leaving him facing the wrong way down the track as the oncoming field darted around him in avoidance.
Thankfully, nobody hit the stationary scarlet machine, allowing the Spaniard to resume his race – albeit right at the rear of the order. From there, undefeated, the 22-time grand prix-winner went on to fairly scythe his way back through the pack, soon rejoining battle with former team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull Racing ace Mark Webber.
Though his progress was ultimately stalled when he came up behind Felipe Massa in the sister car, still P4 for the world championship leader given the way the race had begun was a fine achievement and a real get-out-of-jail drive – and that, Alonso insisted, was thanks to the equipment he had underneath him.
“I was super-happy with fourth,” the Oviedo native enthused. “I do not think I could have done any more than that. I got an awful start, because I had wheelspin on a white line and was last after the first corner following a collision with two other cars. I was not thinking about my team-mate at that moment – I was just thinking about scoring some points. Thanks to the strategy, though, we managed to get this result.
“We were able to run a very long stint with the soft tyres. When I found myself behind Felipe, maybe I could have gone a bit quicker, but we know it's very hard to pass in Formula 1, and between team-mates one should not take any unnecessary risks. If we had managed to get past [Robert] Kubica, then it might have been a different story, but it wasn't possible, apart from the fact I also had to defend my position against Hamilton and Webber, who were on fresher tyres than us.
“To finish fourth was a fantastic result for the team and for myself, and it was very significant, especially given what happened to some other drivers, meaning we have increased our lead over some of our closest rivals in the title fight. The car was perfect, and now there is the possibility that you can win the race even starting last, because the car was so much quicker today than all the others.
“I prefer to start first and be bored until the end of the race, but it was an interesting race in terms of overtaking and battles. For sure, after an exciting and action-packed race like this, I don't think we'll hear much more talk about boring races!”
Whilst the lap times do not necessarily bear out Alonso's conviction that the Ferrari is now the class of the field heading next to Malaysia in less than a week's time – the 28-year-old set only the tenth-fastest lap of the grand prix, more than 1.3 seconds shy of Webber's benchmark for RBR – the Prancing Horse's team principal Stefano Domenicali was certainly full of praise for the performance he had witnessed.