Alonso: We are again bringing home more points than we expected

Second placed Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari celebrates on the podium. Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday 8 July 2012.

Second placed Fernando Alonso celebrates on the Silverstone podium.

Jul.8 (FIA) At one stage it appeared that Fernando Alonso was heading for his third British Grand Prix victory, but the Ferrari F2012 was not kind to the soft Pirelli tyres which the Spaniard used for his final stint and the tyres degraded to the point that he was overtaken with the finish virtually in sight, by Mark Webber on the harder tyres. Nevertheless Alonso battled on to take second place and retain his lead in the world championship standings. This is his story from Silverstone.

Fernando Alonso Ferrari leads from the start of the British Grand Prix at SilvesrtoneIt looked like you were going to win the race. What happened?
Fernando Alonso: Yeah it was quite close today the victory. At the end in the last stint Mark was much quicker than us, and he deserved the win, so I congratulate him and congratulate the Red Bull team. But I’m very proud of the Ferrari recovery in the last few weeks and now we are fighting for the victory in the last three or four Grands Prix. So we’re heading in the right direction. Thanks to all the fans. We had not so good weather during the weekend and they were cheering all the time for us. I hope they enjoyed the show today and see you all next year.

And what about the championship? You’re still leading.
FA: Yeah, still there. It’s the main target obviously for us. Today I think we lost seven points with Mark but we gained some extra points on the rest of the field. So I think it was a good Sunday in terms of championship points for us.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012 is chased by race winner Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8. Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday 8 July 2012.So close but so far. When you first saw everybody else’s tyres and you were pretty much on your own [on the soft] was that a worry?
FA: Not really. You have to put for the first 14 or 15 laps the soft tyres or in the last 14 or 15, so it was a similar timed race at the end over 52 laps. So I was not worried. Probably the start was the biggest worry because with the hard compound you know the start is a little bit worse. We tried to defend the position there. After that we were controlling the race more or less OK until the last stint, we were now quick enough and when Mark arrived I think he overtook very easy and there was nothing we can do. I’m happy with the second place. Now obviously, ten minutes after the race there is a strange feeling of losing victory. But it’s the same 18 points you get if you are third and you overtake the guy in second on the last lap and you are so happy, so it’s the same second place but different feelings in this ten minutes but I’m sure in one hour’s time I will appreciate it much more.

And in particular having the pace you had in Valencia as well. That’s two races in a row you’ve been leading the race.
FA: Yeah it was good in Valencia the car and here on a completely different track with a lot of high-speed corners the car seemed to perform very well. Also a fantastic race from Felipe, finishing fourth, so happy with the improvements in the car. I think still there is a last step to close with these guys, maybe they are a little bit quicker in some conditions on some circuits, so we need to improve those.

And an interesting battle with Lewis. It wasn’t actually for position but on the road.
FA: Yeah, it was close. I was with new tyres so I had a pace advantage but you know the McLaren is quite quick on the straights, so I overtook him on the exit of the corner thanks to the tyres and then he overtook me again on the straight and it was a difficult moment of the race because if you have a little contact or something you can lose your front wing or whatever and your race is over. You need to be aggressive, you need to try to no lose too much time in those overtakings but at the same time being a little bit careful.

How much did being on pole influence your decision on tyre choice?
FA: I think tyre choice was a little bit determined by the pace we saw in FP3, the little dry running that we had. We felt more confident on the hards so it was our preferred choice today. And then, if at any point of the race it had rained and we put on intermediates you didn’t have to use the softs any more so it was a better combination of possibilities that the hard gave us today.

Your second stint, was the length of that defined by covering Mark? Could you have gone longer in a perfect world in that second stint and perhaps made more use of the tyre at that point?
FA: I think the second stint was quite close to the limit of the number of laps. Maybe we could have lasted a couple of extra laps in the first one.

When you stopped on the 37th lap, you had 15 laps ahead of you on the softer tyre. You did only 12 on the harder tyre at the beginning. Did you think you could finish the race in good conditions with the tyres.
FA: No, I was confident in the tyres, to be honest, because Felipe used the soft tyre in the first stint and I think he did 14 laps, so 14 laps with maybe a heavy car in the first stint and we were 15 laps to the end with a light car. So we were quite convinced the softs were OK but they were a little bit slower, obviously a little bit too much understeer, so the balanced changed and killed the performance of the car a little bit and we were a bit too slow. We knew, more or less, that the soft was a little bit slower, so we needed to open up a gap in the first two stints when we were on different tyres to Mark and we knew that that gap was for sure getting closer and closer at the end when we put on the softs, and what we opened up at the beginning was not enough

Is the second victory for Mark and second in the championship a surprise for you?
FA: No, not really. I think Mark had a difficult season last year with a little bit too big a difference than normal with Sebastian, but in 2010 he was leading the championship until Korea so he’s not new in this position of fighting for the World Championships. This year, with all the tricky conditions and all the different winners we saw in this strange championship so far, I think Mark is good with those difficulties.

You told us about your mixed feelings: are you more worried to have lost seven points to Mark or you will maybe be more happy to have gained on Sebastian?
FA: I think at the moment, as far as I’m leading, I’m more happy than worried. If Mark was leading the championship, I would be worried about losing another seven points, but at the moment, the weekend in general has been fantastic for us, because we left Valencia with maybe an emotional win, a lot of points in our pocket, compared to our rivals in the championship and we arrived at Silverstone, a completely different circuit, we didn’t know how the car was performing here. We had a very difficult qualifying for everybody yesterday and we survived that qualifying with pole position and today we also had a tricky race. We didn’t know what the weather was doing and I think the car performed well, we avoided any contact, any accidents that might happen at the start or in some battles. We are again bringing home more points than we probably expected, because when we arrived on Thursday, if someone had told us that we would leave on Sunday with 18 points again, I think we would have been very happy.