Realistically, there was no chance for Fernando Alonso to finish any higher than third place this week in the Brazilian Grand Prix - the two Red Bull cars of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were once again simply in a class of their own, as they have been for most of the second half of the 2013 season.

In those circumstances, then, seeing out the year with a podium position in the season finale in Sao Paulo was the most that Alonso could hope for at Interlagos on Sunday - even if it still wasn't quite enough to secure Ferrari the runners-up position in the constructors championship.

"A podium is the best way to end this long season," said Alonso. "Finishing behind two Red Bulls almost tastes like a victory, as well as being the maximum we could have done today."

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The team had pinned its hopes on rain arriving midway through the race, and while the skies grew darker and the drizzle built up during the afternoon, it didn't quite get wet enough to force teams to switch to intermediates in the second half of the 71-lap Brazilian Grand Prix.

"It was a difficult race for everyone, [but] unfortunately the rain didn't come: I think we were more competitive in wet conditions but again, it seems as if it's going to rain in any moment but it didn't.

"It was a shame for us but at least we're in the podium, so ending the season on a high and hopefully for next year we start with a completely new direction and a positive trend."

All eyes had been on Alonso on the grid, with everyone expecting one of the flying starts that had been so impressive earlier in the year. But this time he was too well covered off by polesitter Sebastian Vettel and was able to make no progress, even briefly falling behind Lewis Hamilton for the first lap.

"I did not get away well at the start and I found myself blocked on the outside and then the inside," Alonso admitted. "However, after catching Hamilton and Rosberg, I began to push and my race was all on the attack."

Team principal Stefano Domenicali concurred, calling it "a wonderful race for Fernando" and an example of "a very aggressive Ferrari" which hopefully will pay dividends if carried through to the 2014 season.

"We have ended a difficult season with our heads held high, once again front runners in a Grand Prix that had a bittersweet outcome," he said.

"I would view the season in a positive light," insisted Alonso. "We did win and get podiums, as well as finishing second in the drivers championship and these are figures we can be proud of, both myself and Felipe."

Alonso will be joined at Ferrari next season by Kimi Raikkonen, who won his world championship with the team in 2007 but who left at the end of 2009 to make way for Alonso's arrival in the team.

Raikkonen, who has been driving this season for the Lotus F1 team, was absent from Sao Paulo this weekend after missing the final two races of the 2013 season in order to undergo back surgery before his move to Maranello over the winter.