Thrilled Fernando Alonso says Hungarian GP runner-up finish 'tastes like a victory'
Ferrari driver's mood not dented by Daniel Ricciardo's late victory pass; Alonso finishes on the podium for just the second time in 2014
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 28/07/14 3:38pm
Fernando Alonso was delighted to have held on to second place with tyres that were in extremely bad shape by the end of the race.
Fernando Alonso admitted his season-best second-place finish in the epic Hungarian GP still felt like a victory despite being denied what would have been Ferrari’s first win in 25 races within three laps of the chequered flag.
The Spaniard registered just his and the Maranello team’s second podium finish of their disappointing year after a bold tyre strategy saw Alonso complete the final 31 laps on the same set of soft tyres.
With team boss Marco Mattiacci acknowledging the tactic was a “gamble”, Alonso gained track position at the head of the field but was quickly closed on during the final laps by Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo.
It was the latter - who had the freshest tyres of all - who ultimately triumphed with late moves on his Mercedes and Ferrari rivals but Alonso held on for the runner-up finish ahead of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, who made up huge late ground after a third pitstop.
Having earlier dropped down the order from fourth during the first Safety Car phase, only to swiftly gain positions at the restart, Alonso was delighted with how his race came together.
“It was definitely a perfect time [to finish on the podium]. It was a tricky race with some changeable conditions with some Safety Cars and rain and that obviously mixed the cars a little bit and we took the opportunity,” the Spaniard, who started fifth on the grid, told Sky Sports F1.
“The first Safety Car we were on the first corner, so we missed the pitlane entry, and with that move Ricciardo and Felipe [Massa] overtook us. So that was a little bit of an unlucky position.
“Then with the last Safety Car we saw Ricciardo and Massa pitting, we had the opportunity to lead the race and to control the race from the lead and we thought that was the best decision. We struggled a little bit in the last part with the tyres but this podium obviously tastes like a victory.”
Fernando Alonso was a man on the move after the first Safety Car
While able to keep Hamilton at bay despite the Mercedes’ inherent pace advantage, Alonso was swiftly despatched by Ricciardo into Turn One once the Red Bull had moved into second place.
And while his soft tyres were already well worn by the closing stages, the double World Champion admitted he was fortunate that Hamilton had been on the slower ‘prime’ compound.
“It was difficult [to stay in front] but Lewis had the medium tyre, which was a little bit less grippy, and I had a little bit of an advantage in the level of grip there,” Alonso explained.
“I obviously wanted Lewis to take second position, or to hold Ricciardo a little bit longer, because that was a help for me but when I saw Ricciardo passing Hamilton I was only one [more] lap in front of Daniel at that stage because he was so fast. With Hamilton it was a bit easier.”
Alonso’s 97th career podium keeps him in fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship behind Ricciardo and the runaway Mercedes pair, but increases his lead over fifth-placed Valtteri Bottas to 20 points.