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
  • Get to the point
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 saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss