|AP Photo/Luca Bruno
Fernando Alonso shaved three points off the lead in the drivers’ championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday highlighting the weekend as a positive one despite starting the race with a chance to emerge as the leader.
Chief rival Sebastian Vettel started the 55-lap race from the pit lane as his Red Bull was found in breach of regulations after qualifying ended on Saturday, providing the Ferrari driver an opportunity to eat away a significant amount of his 13 point deficit ahead of the weekend.
But the defending champion clawed from the back of the field at the Yas Marina circuit to finish third behind the Spaniard, limiting the damage significantly with two races remaining in the season.
“I’m happy with the way this weekend turned out,” insisted Alonso. “It’s true that with Sebastian last, there was an opportunity to reduce the gap more significantly but it’s equally true that our performance and our grid position could have seen us lose points in this Grand Prix.
“I repeat, they have the quicker car, we have the better team. Everyone fights with the weapons they have at their disposal: we will not manage to turn our car into the quickest of the pack with a wave of a magic wand, but we will counter their performance with the perfection of our team.
“The simulation put us somewhere between fourth and sixth and we finished second, therefore once again this was a more than perfect race, running at the maximum from start to finish,” he explained. “Sure, there were a number of unexpected retirements and two neutralisation periods that did not really come at the right time or suit us, but these are things beyond our control. We just had to stay focused on our race and that’s what we did.
“Tonight I will go to sleep thinking the glass is half full rather than half empty. We must be proud of what we have done, the work of the mechanics at the track and the engineers who tried to fine tune the car,” he added. “I fought from start to finish: I could not relax for a single lap.”
Teammate Felipe Massa meanwhile managed to haul in six more points for Ferrari, with the Italian team extending its gap to McLaren for second place in the constructors’ championship to 22 points.
The Brazilian however reckoned he could have done better had he not spun when duelling with Mark Webber as he “lost a lot of places at a crucial point in the race”.