Fernando Alonso has claimed that it is not just in triumph that F1 drivers need to be judged, but also in how they deal with the downside of the sport.
Speaking at Ferrari's traditional end-of-season Finals event, staged this year at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, the Spaniard reflected on his 2012 title challenge, which ultimately came up three points shy of success after only rival Sebastian Vettel staged a comeback drive to grab the result he needed in the Brazilian GP finale.
“This has been a spectacular year, hard to forget,” Alonso told the assembled media, “There were moments that will never be repeated - like the win in Valencia or in Malaysia – and I am happy with the way things went.
“I think in terms of strategy, pit-stops, starts, reliability, this has been a perfect year. We all agree the one thing lacking was the car, which meant we could not match the best teams for most of the year. It's the only thing we needed to improve, but it's also true that it's the hardest thing to do. With all the difficulties we had, I'm thinking for example of how far behind we were in winter testing, to be able to fight right to the very end for the title means we are a great team.
“It was a miracle to see, race after race, what we managed to achieve. We definitely did not lose the title in Brazil - that happened in Spa and Suzuka. In the end, we lost the title by three points, however I did the best season of my life and now I can only think of the year to come. Next year, we will try and improve the car, trying to start further up the grid, thus avoiding accidents. Let's hope we also have a bit more luck…”
The first corner incidents that removed him from the races in Belgium and Japan were the only retirement posted by Alonso through the 20-race campaign, and the Spaniard dragged the less-than-competitive to no fewer than 13 podium finishes, including seven either side of the Suzuka shunt to ensure that he remained in the hunt. A third victory came in Germany to add to those in Malaysia and Valencia earlier in the year, but Alonso largely transcended the potential of the F2012 to take the title race to the final race – and earned himself a new legion of followers in the process.
“Ever since I've been at Ferrari, I think I have grown a lot, especially this last year,” he commented, “Before, the people had a more or less good opinion of me, but now I notice a whole different level of respect. But, to be one of the greats of F1, it's not enough to win titles, you must also tackle seasons like the one just ended."
And the goal for 2013?
"Next year? I hope to score three or four point more,” he smiled.