Fernando Alonso claimed that battling through to second place in the Canadian Grand Prix almost felt as good as winning the race, despite the fact that he gave up more ground to Sebastian Vettel in the championship.
The Spaniard had to come from sixth on the grid after struggling in the mixed conditions that blighted qualifying on Saturday, but overcame spirited resistance from both Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton before claiming a valuable 18 points and vaulting Kimi Raikkonen to take over the mantle as Vettel's chief title rival.
“At the end, I think the second place has a victory taste because we scored some good points after a very difficult weekend,” Alonso admitted, “Obviously, we didn't have a good qualifying - I didn't put the lap together and also the conditions didn't help - but we knew that the pace in dry conditions of the car on Friday was good, so we had some hopes.
“But it's not easy. We are fighting with top drivers and I had a very good fight with Mark, with Nico [Rosberg], with Lewis at the end. Even if you have a little bit more pace, they are super-talented and it was difficult race.”
After his scoring potential was limited in similar circumstance in Monaco, Alonso conceded that qualifying was still not Ferrari's strength.
“Qualifying is qualifying and it's better to be on pole position, but I think the last pole position in dry conditions was September 2010, so it's not the strong point of the team,” he confirmed, “On Sunday, we normally pick up the pace a little bit, which we are happy about because the points are gained on Sunday, but it's true that, at some races, if you start too far behind, it's difficult to recover.
“In Monaco, we were not competitive for different reasons and, in some conditions, we are not competitive enough, so we need to work on that.”
Despite Silverstone being next up and, with it, the potential for further cool – and possibly wet – conditions, Alonso remains hopeful of taking the Scuderia back to the front before the points gap to Vettel and Red Bull gets too great.
“I believe [we'll be okay],” he claimed, “I think it's a different circuit, completely different asphalt, generating a lot of stress in the tyre. Silverstone, Nurburgring [are different] compared with very easy tracks on tyres like Monaco, Canada, where you are looking for one or two stops. We know that the temperature is not helping us at the moment, but we cannot say anything because there are other people going very fast in those conditions, so it's up to us to improve. We have some ideas and hopefully, at Silverstone, we can improve on that.”
Asked when he thought the championship situation would begin to get desperate, Alonso – who trails Vettel by 36 points after seven rounds – suggested that he still had a little way to go before he could see the title slipping out of reach.
“I think, when we are 80 or 85 points behind, it will be a very critical situation, which is more than three race [wins],” the Spaniard reasoned, “In the last six or eight years, there were people recovering from more than 30 points on the old points, which is 75 or 80 points [under the current system].”