Ferrari team leader Fernando Alonso took a leaf out of Michael Schumacher’s book in the early moments of Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza by squeezing race winner Sebastian Vettel as hard as he dared on the opening lap after bursting through into an early lead from fourth place on the starting grid.
After making it three abreast going into the first corner and squeezing through into first place, Alonso signalled that he was prepared to play tough with the reigning world champion as he squeezed him onto the grass at 175mph.
“We have nothing to lose in the battles with Sebastian,” said Alonso after finishing third. “He is leading the championship by 100 points, so when we have to defend we will be a little bit harder with him.”
The Spaniard added: “We have been doing good starts in the last couple of Grands Prix, but when starting fifth or sixth there was not room to overtake. Here at Monza we knew if the car was in the same feeling of good starts then we have enough space and enough of a run to the first corner to overtake people.”
Alonso confessed that there was no way he could have stayed ahead all the way to the finish, and having also lost second to Jenson Button later in the race, Alonso suspected that he might have been pushed off the podium by Hamilton had the race been longer or the McLaren spent less time trapped behind Michael Schumacher's Mercedes.
"It was close, I think one or two more laps and probably we'd lose the podium," Alonso conceded. "We were a little bit lucky with Michael and his battles because Lewis lost 20-30 seconds in the first laps, so we managed that gap."