SEPANG, Malaysia, March 25, 2012 (AFP) - Fernando Alonso hailed one of the toughest wins of his career Sunday after he braved treacherous conditions to hand Ferrari a shock victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The Spaniard survived a drenching storm which cut visibility to zero, a lengthy rain delay, two mass scrambles to change tyres on the drying track and a stern challenge from Sergio Perez to lead the standings after two races.
Afterwards, he compared his win in tropical Malaysia to the Korean Grand Prix of 2010, when he also weathered a fearsome storm to claim victory.
"I remember Korea victory was extreme conditions as well, like today. It's very difficult to keep your concentration, keep your focus in the car," Alonso said, crediting "keeping calm in some extreme conditions" for the win.
"It's a big surprise today. I think we weren't competitive in Australia, we were not competitive here and our goal for the first races was to score as many as possible -- but today, we leave with 25," he said.
"So it's an unbelievable result, great job from the team, at trackside I think we've maximised the potential we have in our hands at the moment."
Alonso's last win came eight months ago at the British Grand Prix, and celebrated Ferrari have trailed Red Bull and McLaren for the last three seasons.
But he said Sunday's win, at what is likely to be one of the year's most dramatic races, did not change the fact that the Italian manufacturer badly needed to improve the pace of their car.
"I think it changes nothing, to be honest. We are in a position that we don't want to be -- fighting to go into Q3 and then fighting to score some points. We want to fight for pole positions, for victories," he said.
"So definitely with this first two races of the championship, where we've found ourselves off the pace, the goal was not to lose many points from the leaders... so this is the positive news from these first two races.
"This win will make us happy today... but it doesn't change our determination to improve the car," he added.
Alonso now leads the standings with 35 points, five better than McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, with Ferrari in third place in the constructors' championship.