Ferrari savour 'win' over Red Bull
Ferrari ace Fernando Alonso sees his second place in the Australian Grand Prix as a pyschological win over Red Bull as the Italian team made an encouraging start to the new Formula One season on Sunday.
Alonso was runner-up to Finland's Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus. But importantly for Ferrari, they finished ahead of the world champion Red Bull constructors' team in the first of this season's 19 races.
Red Bull's three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel started off the pole but despite the car's superior speed they were brought back to the field by degrading tyre wear.
Alonso, who was overhauled by Vettel in last season's final Brazil race for the world championship, knew the significance of his second placing and teammate Felipe Massa's fourth place on Sunday.
"Finishing ahead of the Red Bull tastes like a win, even if we know that despite today's race result, they are still the quickest," Alonso said.
"Now we can expect another weekend (in Malaysia) with very changeable weather and one that also puts a lot of stress on the cars from a mechanical point of view and on the drivers, from a physical one.
"But we can tackle it calmly on the back of this good result."
Alonso was encouraged by Ferrari's forward showing in the season-opener after troubled starts in the last couple of years.
"We can claim to have started this season on the right foot, immediately in the fight with the best," he said.
"Along with the results from winter testing, it is a very encouraging sign that we managed to get the most out of a weekend that was full of unknown factors, both in qualifying and the race," Alonso said.
"I think the three-stop strategy was the right one: with the tyre degradation we had, it would have been impossible to manage on one less, and bringing forward the second one by a few laps meant I was able to pass Vettel and Adrian Sutil."
Team principal Stefano Domenicali was thrilled that Ferrari were leading the constructors' championship after the opening round.
"This is only the first of 19 races and we are happy to see Scuderia Ferrari at the top of the constructors' classification," he said.
"It is an encouraging start on which we must continue to build our championship and today's result should serve as a motivational push for all of us, both here at the track and back home in Maranello."