F1: Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo thanks Fernando Alonso after victory at the Chinese Grand Prix

Spaniard won his 31st Grand Prix

Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo has thanked Fernando Alonso for proving his confidence ahead of yesterday's Chinese Grand Prix was not misplaced.

For the 31st time in his Formula One career, and for the second time in China, Alonso took the chequered flag to ignite his title hopes for this season.

The double world champion, who has twice in the last three years missed out on a third crown by a few points to Sebastian Vettel, conjured what he described as "a perfect Sunday".

It was in stark contrast to three weeks ago when Alonso crashed out after running over his own front wing that had earlier in the race been knocked askew when he ran into Vettel.

Yesterday's victory, one that elevates Alonso up to fourth on the all-time winners' list alongside Nigel Mansell, means the Spaniard has closed the gap to Vettel to nine points.

Hailing the performance of his driver and team, Di Montezemolo said: "I was very confident going into this race.

"Now I am very happy, especially for (team principal Stefano) Domenicali and for everyone in the Scuderia who has worked so hard at the track and in Maranello as they really deserve this victory.

"Fernando drove a great race. Winning in China is very satisfying for Ferrari and it is also a source of great pride in Italian technology.

"Now we go on, but with our feet firmly on the ground."

It was an unusual, and at times confusing race, given the top seven drivers all started on the soft, but rapidly-degrading Pirelli tyre, whilst the six behind were on the medium, longer-lasting compound.

It resulted in a plethora of pit stops throughout the race and an array of leaders at different stages before Alonso's flawless drive saw him home ahead of Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes and Vettel.

Alonso said: "The team did a perfect job with the set-up of the car for quali and the race, with perfect pit-stop times and the way they were executed.

"The victory is a good reward for the team, and well deserved after the disappointment in Malaysia. It feels great.

"With the two races we have finished this year, with a second place (in Australia) and the victory here, the start of this campaign is looking good. We are very optimistic."

Raikkonen trails Vettel by three points, with Hamilton 12 down after slipping from pole to third, but nevertheless still happy.

"The guys did a great job over the weekend to get us where we were - on pole and finishing third," said Hamilton.

"We got the absolute most out of the car we had and that's very satisfying, but we're not quite there yet in terms of overall pace.

"I'm not really sure where we're losing out, but everyone is working so hard and I know we can do it."

Jenson Button finished a creditable fifth given the still ongoing limitations of his McLaren, with Paul Di Resta eighth in his Force India and Marsussia's Max Chilton 17th.

Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez, who rear-ended Force India's Adrian Sutil on lap 16 that forced both into retirement, has been handed a five-place grid penalty for this Sunday's race in Bahrain.

Red Bull's Mark Webber will serve a three-place penalty for running into Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne, forcing a pit stop which saw Webber retire a lap later after the right-rear wheel came off.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'