Fernando Alonso managed to turn seventh on the grid into second at the chequered flag after a vintage performance by the Spaniard in Singapore.
He jumped up to third at the start and then gambled by pitting under a safety car on lap 25 while Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg up ahead chose to stay out, as did Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton. He dropped to fifth but managed to keep his tyres in good shape and get to the flag. When the others pitted only Vettel was able to stay ahead, leaving Alonso in second.
“It was not easy, obviously, to finish the race with those tyres,” he said. “But we committed to that strategy when we pit under the safety car and we were controlling the pace all through the last stint thanks to the gap that we managed to build. The start again was very good and I was lucky to choose the right line. On Turn One there is always people going on the left, people going on the right in every circuit.
“We’ve managed so far to choose the right one. And then we were third which was already a good result for us. But when we didn’t stop Rosberg pitting in the safety car, we decided to pit and to try something different. We were too slow this weekend. We were not in a level that we should be. We try a little bit different things, and it paid off at the end with a fantastic second place. For us it tastes like a victory today.”
He admitted that the team didn’t know if the gamble would work.
“We didn’t know exactly how long the tyres would survive. We were maybe not expecting that long but… We are sixty points behind in the championship, if it works OK, if it doesn’t work maybe we don’t finish second, we finish fourth or fifth.
“There was a small chance that if Rosberg, Webber and Hamilton were not that slow after the safety car, maybe Sebastian didn’t get the 28 seconds necessary to exit in front of me but Nico, I think, had a problem with the front wing, Webber was without tyres and Hamilton pitted very late, the last.
“So when I had a free track and Seb pitted and exited in front of me already so we had a small chance to maybe lead the race but obviously very difficult to keep [with] Sebastian. Probably in the last part of the race with new tyres and we with a very slow pace. But we tried, nothing to lose and I think that will be the strategy in the last part of the championship. We are not as fast as they are in qualifying or in the race so we will try something different.”
Meanwhile Alonso admitted that the championship is getting ever more difficult.
“Well obviously we have to be realistic. A few races to go already, the gap is still increasing every weekend and now it’s sixty points. So, as I said, we need to be honest with ourselves and knowing that we need a lot of luck. We don’t need luck in Korea; we need luck in Korea, in Japan, in India, in Abu Dhabi… We need luck every weekend if we are one second off the pace. We need a lot of luck. On the other hand, we are a very uncomfortable opponent, I think, because if we get that luck, we will be there.”