• Italian Grand Prix

Alonso hails 'absolutely perfect Sunday' for title hopes

ESPN Staff
September 9, 2012 « D'Ambrosio eyeing first point | Monza win 'phenomenal' - Hamilton »
Fernando Alonso saw his championship lead extended to 37 points after three title rivals failed to finish © Press Association

Fernando Alonso said it was "an absolutely perfect Sunday" for his championship hopes after finishing third in the Italian Grand Prix.

Having had a problem in qualifying Alonso had to start from tenth on the grid, with damage limitation seemingly the aim at Monza. However, an impressive drive to third on the grid coupled with Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Jenson Button all retiring saw Alonso extend his championship lead to 37 points and he admitted it was an unexpectedly productive afternoon.

"It's an absolutely perfect Sunday for us," Alonso said. "The win was out of reach; after the problem yesterday starting tenth it was not easy to think about victory. So if you cannot win then the podium is the next target, I think before the race all the predictions we had we were never finishing on the podium so basically it's much better than expected. And Jenson was out of the race, and the two Red Bull's so it was a good Sunday."

An incident with Vettel saw the reigning champion handed a drive-through penalty for forcing Alonso off the track, but Alonso refused to be drawn on the subject, simply replying: "Nothing really to say."

Alonso did highlight his start to the race as the key to his podium, having made up four places by the time he was halfway through the second lap.

"The start was good ... the two first laps I think were making the difference for our race - we overtook [Paul] di Resta, Kimi [Raikkonen] and Michael [Schumacher] very quickly and that gave us the opportunity to follow Sebastian and the quick cars that were in the first five positions. So when you find yourself sixth after two or three laps the race improves a lot."