Fernando Alonso put his qualifying woes behind him to claim the final spot on the podium today in the F1 2012 Italian Grand Prix, much to the delight of the tifosi
, who turned out to cheer on the Scuderia at its home race.
Alonso made a strong start from tenth on the grid to gain four places and then soon dispensed with Michael Schumacher in the early stages. He later 'enjoyed' a robust scrap with Sebastian Vettel, which landed the Red Bull pilot with a drive-through penalty after the stewards judged he had pushed the Ferrari off track.
In the closing stages, Felipe Massa dutifully let his team-mate by and up into second, and while Alonso could do nothing to hold off a hard charging Sergio Perez nine laps from the flag, third was still a very welcome result.
Indeed it strengthens Alonso's lead in the F1 2012 Drivers' Championship and he will now go to Singapore and into the final seven races with a 37-point cushion over McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.
“This Sunday was perfect for the championship, almost like a film with a happy ending: another podium finish, three of my closest rivals with no points and an increased lead over my closest pursuer,” Alonso said.
“I remain convinced that, but for the problem in qualifying yesterday, we could definitely have had every chance of starting from pole and if we can be equally competitive on Saturdays at the tracks that are coming up, it will be very important for the end of the season.
“We must try to win some more races too and to manage the lead we have in the classification. Here we had to mark Vettel, but in Singapore it will be important to keep an eye on Hamilton, who is now second.
“When I found myself fighting with Vettel I went off the track and, from then on, the car was not right. It wasn't nice bouncing through the gravel but, afterwards, I was able to overtake him anyway a few laps later. I don't want to comment on the penalty he received, but what he did was definitely on the limit.
“The opening laps were the key to my race. I passed a few cars - Kimi [Raikkonen], [Paul] di Resta and Michael [Schumacher] - and finding myself sixth almost immediately put my race on a more even course.”
So how special was the result?
“Racing for Ferrari at Monza and standing on the podium is always something special: driving a red car is different because the fans are exceptional,” Alonso added.
“If they were told not to eat for days to have the chance to drive a car from Maranello, they would do it and this is what makes the passion for Ferrari unique around the world.”