Stefano Domenicali described Fernando Alonso‘s podium finish at the Italian Grand Prix as ‘the best we could have hoped for’ after a difficult weekend for the Scuderia in Monza.
Third place for Alonso and a retirement for Mark Webber was enough to lift the Spaniard up to second place in the drivers’ standings, albeit 112 points behind runaway leader Sebastian Vettel. Felipe Massa, in the other Ferrari, finished the race sixth.
“Honestly, this result is the best we could have hoped for, given our current technical situation,” said Domenicali. “The fact Fernando is second in the Drivers' championship is amazing and I think it highlights the stuff our driver is made of. Once again today, he delivered a majestic performance, either attacking, as he did at the start, or defending as in the closing stages.
“Felipe also did well and I am sure he could have been right up there in the fight behind Vettel, if he had not been pushed into a spin by Webber: all the same he delivered a good race.
“Clearly Ferrari must always aim for victory and a third place is not and should not be something to get excited about, but the team worked well, keeping its cool and concentrating and, step by step, the situation is improving. Our aim for the final part of the season remains the same: we will try and win races and always do our best. We owe that to ourselves and to our fans who once again today, were magnificent. I am sure Fernando felt goose bumps up on the podium: standing there in a red suit is something specialâ€¦”
Alonso was indeed delighted to be back on the podium in Ferrari overalls, although he would no doubt have preferred to be standing on the top step, as he did last year. The double world champion got a good start in the race, and was leading into the first corner. Alas, the F150° Italia could not compete with the likes of Red Bull and McLaren however, but Alonso is reasonably happy with the result.
“Returning to this magnificent podium wearing the Scuderia race suit is always very exciting,” said the Spaniard. “I said it yesterday: a podium place is within our grasp. We knew we needed to get a great start and we managed it, partly down to a great preparation job done with the engineers over the past two days.
“The start was really a magical moment, like in Barcelona, although we knew this was not our true position and that sooner or later we would have been passed. However, it was still very nice to see our fans cheering during those laps at reduced speed behind the Safety Car. There was nothing we could about Vettel, he was much quicker than us and passed me easily.
“The situation was better up against the McLarens: with the Softs, we could defend well, but on the Mediums they still have a significant advantage and I think that if the race had gone on a few more laps, I would have been off the podium. Having said that, I am happy with this result: we were better in the race than in qualifying, but that has been a constant factor since the start of the season.
“Sure, it would have been fantastic to do the double after 2010, but we must stay cool and concentrate and try to reach targets that are within our reach: today we did just that. It's true the title has gone now, but there is still great motivation: we want to win races and try to defend the position I have just reached in the Drivers' championship.”
Massa was much more unhappy than his team-mate, blaming the accident with Webber for his relatively poor finishing position. “I can only be disappointed with this sixth place, because today I could definitely have fought for a place on the podium,” the Brazilian said. “Unfortunately, the incident caused by Webber cost me too much time and I dropped to tenth place. That meant I had to pass so many drivers to try and catch up to the leaders again, but by then it was anyway too late.
“The collision with Webber did not do any damage: he hit my wheels and that pushed me into a spin when we were at the second corner. I braked slightly late, taking the inside line and, going round the outside, he would never have got past. I am really disappointed, because the car was not bad today in terms of pace and even when we were running the Medium tyres in the final stint of the race, we were reasonably quick and degradation was pretty low.
“Now we hope to have a bit more luck in the final six races of the season.”