Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali says the biggest positive to come out of Fernando Alonso's Italian Grand Prix victory was not the win itself, but that his team was now firmly back in the title hunt.
Alonso had come into Ferrari's home race at Monza admitting that he needed a good result to keep his championship hopes alive, but reckoned just a podium finish was enough to fulfil that.
However, Alonso delivered one of his best drives of the season to hound early leader Jenson Button before jumping his McLaren rival at the mandatory pit stop. Allied to Lewis Hamilton's retirement from the race on the first lap, the victory meant that Alonso cut the deficit to the series leader from 41 points to just 21 to reignite his title challenge.
Domenicali was full of emotion at seeing Ferrari take its first win at Monza since 2006 - but thought the title situation was the best thing to come out of the day.
"Of course, we are very happy to have done this performance here in front of our people," he said. "It is amazing when you are on the podium to feel that live – with the people under you, with a sea of red supporters who were singing the national anthem. I was saying together with Jenson on the podium that this feeling is unique and fantastic. I am very happy no doubt.
"But, on the other hand, as I said in Belgium, the only objective that we had to reach today was to try and close the gap to the leaders – and we did it. We achieved it; it was target accomplished for today.
"Now, for sure, the championship will be open until the end. The races this year are very peculiar. If someone that is in front loses an opportunity – makes a mistake, or goes out, or crashes, or whatever it is, then the others will jump very close. It is really important to be consistent and stable up until the end, and we will see in Abu Dhabi."
Although Alonso's victory hung on the pitstop that allowed him to leapfrog Button, Domenicali reckons that whatever strategy Ferrari had chosen it would have come out on top, simply because its car was better than McLaren's on the day.
When asked if he believed that whatever Ferrari did it would have won, Domenicali said: "To be honest today, yes. I think that today we really had a great car in terms of performance, soft or hard with no difference at all. Unfortunately, with the fact that we lost the position at the start, we had to be there and try to understand what was the best scenario for us to try and jump in front of them.
"The only thing that was possible, unless there was a mistake which you don't consider when you think about the strategy, was to try to stay close, as much as you can, and try to consider the traffic of the backmarkers who were in front. These were the two variables that you had to consider from the strategy point of view.
"We were very close to call Fernando in the same lap as Jenson because we were watching the backmarkers in front and we had the experience of Canada, where we lost the win of the race being held by some backmarkers. That was in our mind quite fresh, and that was the reason why we considered the gaps, so we said: OK, we have to do one lap, it has to be very, very good, it has to be perfect and, as I said before, I have to thank really the team that did a perfect pit stop. And that made the difference – to be first rather than second."
He added: "But I would say today, our car was really strong. This is the nature of racing – there were some crucial moments, the start, and the pit stop, which clearly made the difference, and that is it. We have seen since the beginning that this is the situation.
"We had other occasions where we saw the opposite. I give you the example of our car in Hungary where we had behind a car that was much faster than our cars but it was not possible to overtake because of the nature of the track. That is what we have to consider for the future and for the next races – this will be one of the key points for the final five races."