Fernando Alonso said he was pleased to secure a podium finish in the European Grand Prix after splitting Red Bull pair Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in Valencia.

A strong start saw the Spaniard climb up to second on the opening lap and then emerged as the only realy challenger to the Red Bull pair as the race wore on.

Having swapped position with Webber a number of times both on track and in the pits, Alonso finally got into second for the final time during the third round of stops and then maintained his position to the finish as Webber was forced to back off with a gearbox problem in the final laps.

"I was determined to get on the podium," he said. "In my trophy collection, the only ones now missing are from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and, naturally, India. I hope I can complete the collection by the end of the year! I was really pleased to taste champagne again, especially in front of this lovely crowd in Valencia, an amazing city where there is a great passion for racing. This result means a lot to me.

"This is a positive result for the whole team, as it confirms we are working in the right direction. Today, the first hundred metres were not that great but I knew that starting on the dirty side would cost me something: then I was lucky enough to find there was still a gap on the outside and I managed to make up one place on my grid position. It was important to shake off the McLarens immediately, as they were slower than us today, which meant we concentrated on Webber and reached our objective. Then, when I was sure he was behind me, we tried to think about Vettel: you never know what can happen in Formula 1.

"The strategy paid off and sticking mainly with the softs was the right choice. The Red Bulls are still significantly superior, but it was equally significant to stay close and stop them getting a one-two. We must continue like this, race after race. We know that, at Silverstone, it will be very tough because it is one of the tracks which best suits their car."

Team boss Stefano Domenicali was also happy with the result, which also saw Felipe Massa take the flag in fifth place, even if it wasn't the victory that Ferrari continues to crave in 2011.

"Our only target has to be the victory - we are Ferrari after all - but today, all things considered, we can be pleased with this result," he said. "It was an exciting and very evenly matched contest: Fernando and Felipe drove great races, fighting right to the end with their main rivals. The Spanish driver, in front of his home fans, managed to end up ahead of a Red Bull to secure a fantastic podium finish.

"Now, we must continue to push on the development of the car in preparation for Silverstone, where we want to confirm the progress we have made at a circuit whose characteristics are less suited to the 150? Italia. There, we will also find out if the technical changes recommended by the FIA regarding the use of the exhausts, which are to be introduced at that race, will change anything or not: everyone will lose a bit in terms of performance, so it's a case of seeing who pays the highest price."


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