Fernando Alonso has admitted defeat in the drivers' championship following today's Italian Grand Prix.
Alonso had a great start and from fourth on the grid, was three abreast with Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton on the run down to Turn 1. Although he took the lead though, he knew it would be short lived, and while the safety car period extended the number of laps he was out front, he soon dropped back behind Vettel once racing resumed.
Alonso then took advantage of the McLaren's being tucked up behind Michael Schumacher to pull out something of a cushion, and while he couldn't hold off Jenson Button in the final third of the race, he did just manage to stay ahead of Lewis Hamilton, with the chequered flag falling just at the right time.
Speaking at the finish he conceded third was the best he could have hoped for and he was delighted to be up on the podium again at the Scuderia's home race, just like he was in 2010, when he won.
“Returning to this magnificent podium wearing the Scuderia race suit is always very exciting. I said it yesterday: a podium place is within our grasp. We knew we needed to get a great start and we managed it, partly down to a great preparation job done with the engineers over the past two days,” Alonso noted.
“The start was really a magical moment, like in Barcelona, although we knew this was not our true position and that sooner or later we would have been passed. However, it was still very nice to see our fans cheering during those laps at reduced speed behind the Safety Car.
“There was nothing we could about Vettel, he was much quicker than us and passed me easily. The situation was better up against the McLarens: with the Softs, we could defend well, but on the Mediums they still have a significant advantage and I think that if the race had gone on a few more laps, I would have been off the podium.
“Having said that, I am happy with this result: we were better in the race than in qualifying, but that has been a constant factor since the start of the season. Sure, it would have been fantastic to do the double after 2010, but we must stay cool and concentrate and try to reach targets that are within our reach: today we did just that. It's true the title has gone now, but there is still great motivation: we want to win races and try to defend the [second] position I have just reached in the Drivers' championship.”
Felipe Massa meanwhile finished sixth in the sister car, losing crucial time early on after tangling with Mark Webber in Turn 1.
“I can only be disappointed with this sixth place, because today I could definitely have fought for a place on the podium,” added the Brazilian. “Unfortunately, the incident caused by Webber cost me too much time and I dropped to tenth place. That meant I had to pass so many drivers to try and catch up to the leaders again, but by then it was anyway too late.
“The collision with Webber did not do any damage: he hit my wheels and that pushed me into a spin when we were at the second corner. I braked slightly late, taking the inside line and, going round the outside, he would never have got past.
“I am really disappointed, because the car was not bad today in terms of pace and even when we were running the Medium tyres in the final stint, we were reasonably quick and degradation was pretty low. Now we hope to have a bit more luck in the final six races.”