Montreal: Fernando Alonso knows better than anyone there is no such thing as a safe lead in Formula One, either in races or the championship. Last year, the Spaniard led the championship by 40 points with nine races to go. He had scored points in 23 consecutive races, a mark only Michael Schumacher had bettered, and seemed a sure thing to win his third title.
Then the wheels fell off and Sebastian Vettel stormed past him to win his third championship. It was a bitter lesson for Alonso and his Ferrari team but one that gives him hope this year's title race is still up for grabs even though he trails Vettel by 36 points after seven of the 19 rounds.
He needed a good result in Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix and got it, finishing second. The only problem was that the one driver who finished in front of him was Vettel, meaning the Spaniard still lost ground in the title race. He consoled himself with the fact it could have been worse.
Despite setting the fastest time in Friday's practice when the track was dry, he started the race from sixth place after it rained during qualifying. And he was still back in fourth place nearing the end of Sunday's race before slipping past Mark Webber then Lewis Hamilton with a brilliant drive. "I think second tastes of victory, because we scored some good points after a very difficult weekend," he said.
Alonso said he never really had any chance of catching Vettel, who made a fast getaway from pole position and quickly established a big lead that was never threatened, but there were plenty of other positives. The Ferrari showed plenty of pace when the sun came out, and he overtook Kimi Raikkonen for second place in the standings after the Finn struggled to ninth.
"I'm happy. Obviously we want to finish in front of our main competitors in the championship," said Alonso, world champion in 2005 and 2006. "With Sebastian we could not do it today but he did pole position and a very dominant race so we just need to congratulate him and to do a better job next time.
"With Kimi it was a good weekend because we scored many points and he didn't. But we need to improve, especially qualifying. If we start up in front with Sebastian we can fight a little bit closer.