Fernando Alonso has said he had to drive at '120 per cent' for every lap of the Indian Grand Prix in order to net the runners-up spot.
The Ferrari pilot qualified fifth in his F2012, but a good start saw him move up to fourth and ahead of Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap. He also passed Jenson Button in the other McLaren on lap 4, making the most of the DRS to get the jump at Turn 4.
Following the pit stops he then closed on Mark Webber and with the Aussie hampered by a KERS issue
, swept by with relative ease on lap 48, eventually finished 3.8 seconds ahead in P2, and 9.4 seconds off race winner, Sebastian Vettel.
The result minimises the damage to his championship challenge, although he still loses ground, with the deficit to Vettel increasing from 6 points to 13 with just three races to go.
“We can fight the Red Bulls, but at the moment, we still don't have a car capable of winning,” Alonso lamented after the 17th round in the 2012 F1 World Championship. “Once again this year we have seen that, in the race, the situation is much better than in qualifying. A great start, a great first lap, a good top speed and the right tyre management produced, along with me driving at 120% for each of the sixty race laps, this second place.
“We did what we could, as at every race - and if, come the end of the championship we will have won, then no one will be able to say it was down to mistakes from the others, but because we always did the maximum.”
So would he say it was his best performance of the season?
“I don't know, as it's always difficult to make that sort of call,” he added. “I am particularly keen on the one in Valencia or at Monza, but this one is definitely up there: I pushed from start to finish, maybe taking some more risks in overtaking compared to previous races.
“Today, after the start, I tried to immediately attack the McLarens getting into their slipstream. They were fighting among themselves and maybe they forgot about me and I managed to get past at least one of them. Then I also managed to overtake Button just a few laps later, but the time lost in those few laps allowed the two Red Bulls to pull out a bit of a gap.
“In the second stint, I made the most of Webber's problems with the KERS to overtake him: yet again we have seen that anything can happen and that the races are always long and difficult...”
Meanwhile, looking to Abu Dhabi next weekend, Alonso confirmed that the Maranello-based outfit will have some more modifications in a bid to close the gap to Red Bull: “We will have some updates in Abu Dhabi: let's hope we can make a step forward because it will be important to start making up the points gap there already,” he continued.
“There are 75 points up for grabs, which is a lot. I am still optimistic [we can win the title] even if we are all aware that we have to improve our performance, especially on Saturday.”