Ferrari were celebrating one of their strongest weekends of the 2011 season in Japan, after a rousing finish to the race from Fernando Alonso who managed to apply pressure on race leader Jenson Button right to the chequered flag.

"I don't think it's out of place if, for the second time running, I use the adjective amazing, this time to describe Fernando Alonso's race today," said a jubilant team boss Stefano Domenicali.

"Our driver was always on the attack and came very close to a win which would have been incredible, given our performance two weeks ago in Singapore," he added.

"Today, we did our best and we came close to winning the race," said Alonso, who had worked hard to exploit the opportunities presented by the various tyre strategies and differing rates of tyre degradation seen throughout the Japanese Grand Prix.

"Others were very strong for the first five or six laps and then we closed up to them a lot," he said. "It was a fun race, in which the strategy was very important. Unlike recent races, today we had a pace that was good enough to fight for the win."

Now he was looking forward to building on the upturn in performance going into Korea and the remaining races of the year. "This podium is a great motivation for the final four races of the season," he said. "We will try again in Korea, where we can go with our heads held high: we will try and win, or at least get on the podium again."

Felipe Massa also managed to finish in the top ten in seventh position, despite the contact with Lewis Hamilton that affected his car handling, but it was small consolation to the Brazilian. "Today, our pace was good enough to finish on the podium, as Fernando demonstrated, but instead I am here commenting on a seventh place," he commented after the race at Suzuka. "It's a real shame."

Ferrari's head of race track engineering, at Fry, explained the snowballing downturn in Massa's race fortunes: "First he might have paid the price for a pit stop that was delayed by a few laps and then there was the contact with Hamilton," he said. "In the end he found himself in traffic and we have often seen this year how hard it is to pass a Mercedes, even if we have a better pace."

But overall, the revival in Ferrari's fortunes gives Stefano Domenicali cause for optimism going into the remaining races of the season.

"All these changes of fortune in terms of who is competitive, confirm once again how hard it is to understand as well as possible the real performance of the car-tyre packages at each track," he said. "There are still four races to go this season, in which we will do our utmost to achieve the objectives that are still within our reach: winning again, taking Fernando to second in the Drivers' classification and learning as much as possible from this car with a view to 2012."

"We will try to do the same again next weekend in Korea," added Pat Fry. "It would be nice to get another win before the end of the season, but we know it will be difficult!"