Reigning double world champion Fernando Alonso has rated victory in today's Monaco Grand Prix as one of the best of his career. It is undeniably one of the most important.

The Spaniard had entered the weekend under something of a cloud, following rookie team-mate Lewis Hamilton's increasingly impressive performances in the last few races that, critics levelled, had called into question Alonso's temperament and composure under pressure. He answered those critics in consummate fashion.

After seeing off Hamilton's challenge in qualifying to seal the first pole position of his McLaren career - and the squad's first of the current campaign - the 25-year-old then contained the Brit's challenge in the race, as the two battled tooth-and-nail over 78 laps at a relentless, truly breathtaking pace.

Although Hamilton closed right onto the back of his team-mate in the final stint, Alonso always appeared to have matters under control and eventually took the chequered flag some four seconds to the good - and a staggering 69 seconds ahead of Felipe Massa, the first non-McLaren home - to record his second consecutive triumph in the Principality and the 17th of his grand prix career.

"This win means a lot to me and our world championship campaign," he enthused afterwards. "It's a very nice surprise to see how the team's hard work over the last couple of weeks has made our car so competitive. I have never had the experience of being more than one minute ahead of the competition, which probably makes this one of my best victories.

"I didn't get off the line brilliantly from pole position, but as there is such a short run to the first corner I was pretty sure I would be able to keep the lead. However, as I was able to save fuel in my first stint I was able to stay out for two more laps than originally planned. After that the race was pretty quiet with only the back-markers causing a few problems, especially shortly before my second pit-stop when I lost a lot of time. I will enjoy this victory and look forward to the races in North America."

Indeed, it is a result that has re-instated Alonso to the head of the drivers' title chase, tied on points with Hamilton but with two victories to his team-mate's none. It also marked the Woking outfit's second one-two finish of the season, and one that has further increased their lead over arch-rivals Ferrari in the constructors' standings.

"It was an outstanding result for the team," underlined team principal Ron Dennis. "Both Fernando and Lewis drove so well and responded excellently to the team's wishes of bringing both cars home safely in what was a memorable one-two result and McLaren's 14th victory in the Principality."

"The team showed a picture book performance today in Monaco," concurred Mercedes-Benz Vice-President Norbert Haug. "At this challenging circuit Fernando and Lewis were fast like nobody else on both the Bridgestone Potenza prime and option tyres, which worked perfectly well on the car. Both drivers' performances were flawless and the team's strategy was perfect."

 

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