Fernando Alonso was counting his blessings after experiencing mixed fortunes at the weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver had been looking for a good result in Montreal after finishing a disappointing seventh in Monaco. And he managed to achieve one, driving to second in Sunday’s race and moving up from third to second in the world championship standings.
The only trouble was, main rival Sebastian Vettel won the race in dominant style in the Red Bull, extending his overall lead in the drivers’ race.
“I think second tastes of victory, because we scored some good points after a very difficult weekend,” Alonso told Reuters.
Though the Asturian had been fastest in Friday practice, he only managed sixth on the grid in Saturday’s rain-splashed qualifying session. From there he was forced to watch Vettel storm off to establish a commanding lead — the German led from start to finish with the exception of three laps — while he was left to battle with the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, besides Mark Webber in the other Red Bull. It was nine laps from the checkered flag when he finally made it past Hamilton using his DRS on the pit lane straight to secure second place.
“I’m happy. Obviously we want to finish in front of our main competitors in the championship,” Alonso said. “With Sebastian we could not do it today but he did pole position and a very dominant race so we just need to congratulate him and to do a better job next time.
“I think the difference in pace was very small. In other battles perhaps I was a little bit faster. We had a very similar pace to Hamilton and it was a nice battle,” the Ferrari driver added.
However, the results were clouded by the death of a marshal in the aftermath of the race. The 38-year-old official was accidentally hit by a recovery vehicle after he stumbled as the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez was being removed from the track.
On the Sunday we normally catch up and that is when the points are won"
“Today there is nothing to celebrate,” Alonso wrote on Twitter. “Terrible news arrives with the death of a marshal this race. Very sad. R.I.P.”
Vettel now lies on 132 points in the overall standings with Alonso on 96 and Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen, who only managed ninth in Montreal, eight points further back on 88.
Despite the 36-point margin, the title race is far from over, the Spaniard believes. And he should know. Last year he found himself with a 40-point lead with nine races left, only for Vettel to storm back and win his third consecutive world championship.
Alonso admitted that Ferrari had to improve its performances in qualifying in order to close the gap. “Qualifying is qualifying and it is better to start from pole, but I think the last pole the team had in the dry was in September 2010. So I think that it is not one of the team’s strengths,” he said.
“On the Sunday we normally catch up and we are happy with that because that is when the points are won, but it is true that in some races if you start too far back it is difficult to recover. We will try to improve next time.”