November, 13th 2011 (F1plus Team).- Fernando Alonso is very happy, but slightly surprise with his second place finish results today. He also explained that, as has been the case for much of the 2011 season, he was required to post qualifying-like laps on a constant basis to challenge Lewis Hamilton for the lead in Abu Dhabi.
The Spaniard attempted to steal victory from the Englishman, by closing the gap in the final laps, but the effort was not enough since Hamilton crossed the line first with a flawless drive.
“I was just doing qualifying laps every lap, trying to close the gap,” the Spaniard said after the race, having started fifth before passing both Mark Webber and Jenson Button on the opening lap.
“I closed the gap to two seconds, then had problems with traffic and lost two seconds - it all depended on which parts of track you caught people up on.”
Alonso was closing in on Lewis Hamilton ahead of the final round of pit stops, and stayed out for two extra laps on the soft tyre in order to try and get ahead of the McLaren. Having opened up a 20 second lead, Alonso pitted but encountered a slow-moving HRT on entry to the pit lane, while also having a slower stop before rejoining in second. With Hamilton going on to extend his lead by the end of the race, Alonso said he would not have been able to stay ahead if he had gained a position in the pits.
"It was a fantastic race for me with a very good start a then a good first lap fight for Jenson and obviously with the problem with Sebastian we found ourselves in second," Alonso said. "Then we fought all the way through the race, more or less with a distance of three to five seconds with Lewis
He admits that 2012 is now at the center of his mind (and most probably his whole team).
“To be honest, I just want to have the last race and think of 2012 as soon as possible,” Alonso continued. “I don’t want to forget this year, because it has been quite good for the team and we have made some generally good improvements from last year, but we haven’t been able to fight for the championship.”
Alonso also conceded that even being competitive enough to hold on to second place was a surprise for him.
"At that point [first lap] we thought it would be a long race defending the second position, but it was not like that. The car was performing so well, the pace was so good that we were looking more to Hamilton and to the victory than to the mirror. So that was a surprise, and it was one of those Sundays when the car is better than expected."