Fernando Alonso admitted he was delighted to have secured the championship lead, even though he missed out on victory in the sixth round of the F1 season in Monaco.
The Spaniard followed Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg home to take third place in the principality, opening up a three point lead over Webber and Sebastian Vettel – who had been level with the Ferrari man going into the weekend – at the head of the standings.
It maintained Alonso's impressive season despite the issues Ferrari has faced with the F2012 although he admitted to being surprised at leading the championship heading to the next race in Canada.
"I'm very happy with the way things have gone this weekend,” he said. “We leave Monaco heading the Championship: if I'd been offered that after the Mugello test at the beginning of the month, I'd have signed for it there and then, but if I'd been told that after Melbourne, I would never have believed it!
“In Australia we started twelfth, then in the last two races we have jumped onto the podium and we are first in the classification. This result has to be further motivation to push even harder on the development of the F2012.”
Alonso however admitted that he had been lucky to avoid picking up serious damage on the opening lap when he clashed with Romain Grosjean on the run down to St Devote.
“We knew the start would be crucial,” he said. “I got away very well and I almost got alongside Grosjean and Hamilton: the Frenchman and I touched and, for a moment, I was scared the car was damaged. On this track overtaking is almost impossible and being in someone's slipstream causes temperature problems, both for the engine and the tyres. So, you cannot always be on the attack of those ahead, trying instead to manage the situation and push flat out only at the moments that count, such as the pit stops and that's what I did.
“Could I have also got past Rosberg and Webber if I'd stayed out on track a bit longer? Maybe, but at that moment it was the right choice to make. I was definitely very quick with a clear track ahead of me. Towards the end, I was a bit worried about Vettel who was on the Supersoft, but luckily I could defend my position comfortably. Then I hoped the rain would come, because I think that could have given me a chance of winning, however, in the last five or six laps I thought it was over, partly because at every corner there might have been a surprise lying in wait.
“Let's see what the situation is in Canada, but certainly we hope to be able to confirm at this track too the progress we have seen at the last two Grands Prix.”