Fernando Alonso has admitted that second place in the Singapore Grand Prix was by no means certain as he coaxed his ageing tyres to the line in Marina Bay.

Like many of those around him entering the closing stages of an arduous encounter, the Spaniard had pitted under the mid-race safety car before his Ferrari team took the decision to try and make the harder of the two Pirelli compounds last for nearly 40 laps in order to capitalise on track position later in the race.

While the likes of Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg, on similar strategies, faded away with ten laps to run, Alonso was able to carry on in second spot, albeit a long way behind runaway leader Sebastian Vettel. The Spaniard was helped by not having to battle with anyone, as there was a sizeable cushion back to third place, where Button eventually succumbed to Kimi Raikkonen before dropping to seventh at the flag.

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"We didn't know exactly how long the tyres would survive," Alonso revealed after a 36-lap run to the finish, "We were maybe not expecting that long, but...

"We are 60 points behind in the championship so, if it works, okay; if it doesn't work then maybe we don't finish second, we finish fourth or fifth. It's nothing really...

"There was a small chance that if [Nico] Rosberg, [Mark] Webber and [Lewis] Hamilton were not that slow after the safety car, maybe Sebastian didn't get the 28 seconds necessary to exit in front of me but Nico, I think, had a problem with the front wing, Webber was without tyres and Hamilton pitted very late so, when I had a free track and Seb pitted, we had a small chance to maybe lead the race.

"Obviously, it was very difficult to keep Sebastian, [especially] in the last part of the race with [the Red Bull on] new tyres and us with a very slow pace. But we tried, [we had] nothing to lose and I think that will be the strategy in the last part of the championship. We are not as fast as they are in qualifying or in the race, so we will try something different."

Alonso revealed that it had been the team's decision to run the second half of the race on the same set of tyres, although his task was eased slightly by most of those around him running similar strategies.

"It was not easy, obviously, to finish the race with those tyres, but we committed to that strategy when we pitted under the safety car," he explained, "I asked how many laps to go and they told me 36 and said we will pit and then we will decide [what to do].

"At that moment, we lost only two positions with Webber and Hamilton so, if we pitted, we will have new tyres for the restart and then they were telling me 'our aim is to go to the end' so, from the restart, [it was a case of] taking care of the tyres for 32 laps.

"They told me to take care of Paul di Resta behind because he was on supersofts, new supersofts, and I was on medium, so there was a performance advantage of around one second in the first couple of laps, and I knew that maybe Paul was trying to attack me in those first laps with fresh supersoft. But we were controlling the pace all through the last stint thanks to the gap that we managed to build."

Despite overcoming a disappointing qualifying performance by vaulting from seventh to third on the opening lap - "I was lucky to choose the right line," he admitted - Alonso conceded that the Scuderia had still been 'too slow this weekend'.

"We were not at a level that we should be," he sighed, "We tried a few different things and it paid off at the end with a fantastic second place. For us, it tastes like a victory today, [but] we have to be realistic. There are a few races to go, the gap is still increasing every weekend and now it's 60 points. As I said, we need to be honest with ourselves and know that we need a lot of luck. We don't just need luck in Korea either; we need luck in Korea, in Japan, in India, in Abu Dhabi..."

Despite that, the Spaniard insisted that Ferrari was not about to make life easy for Vettel and Red Bull, even if its attention began to turn to 2014.

"We are a very uncomfortable opponent, I think, because if we get that luck, we will be there," he noted, "Obviously, we try our maximum. We're trying to improve the car for every race, and we are doing it, but obviously not enough compared to our opponents. They are doing a better job than us, they are fantastic every weekend. They are winning and they deserve those wins. This is a sport, someone always has to win and the best one wins and we are not the best ones at the moment, but we will keep working.

"I think we start from zero next year, completely from zero. There is a big change in the regulations, so it's our best opportunity to close the gap. This year was a continuation in a way - we started in a good way, we were competitive in Australia, we won in China, we won in Spain and then we seemed to lose a little bit of performance, especially when the 2012 Pirelli tyres came back. That was probably our [critical] point in the championship - when they changed the tyres, we said 'bye bye' to our title chances.

"For next year, I think we start from zero, so we will put all our effort and hopes into 2014, because starting from zero is our best opportunity to close the gap with all the top teams..."