Rabbit out of the hat

Sports

Alonso had to work hard to keep up and keep the chase for the drivers' championship going. Alonso was set to start in eighth. He got a boost to seventh when Ferrari broke the gearbox seal of Alonso's teammate, Felipe Massa, incurring a five-spot penalty for Massa that allowed Alonso to move up.

Alonso used the better position to immediately advance three spots on the first lap. He ran into trouble with a bad pit stop when his crew struggled to replace his rear left wheel, but made up enough ground to finish third. Vettel still leads the drivers' championship race by 13 points.

Ferrari's clever plot

Ferrari had promised to pull out all stops on Sunday to help Alonso claim the Formula One drivers title and with the help of a rulebook loophole they head to the season finale still in the fight.

Bending the rules to their advantage, Brazilian Felipe Massa took a five-place grid penalty to help Alonso stay in the title chase with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.

Just prior to Sunday's race, Ferrari said they had broken a seal on Massa's gearbox, incurring the mandatory penalty, for strategy considerations, with the objective of maximising Alonso's start potential. The penalty meant Alonso started in seventh place and, crucially, on the clean side of the grid.

Alonso seized the opportunity to finish third behind Vettel and race winner Lewis Hamilton to trail Red Bull's championship leader by 13 points and everything to play for in Sao Paulo next Sunday.

While the decision to take a penalty to gain an advantage may hint at a lack of sportsmanship, the move fell within the rules, Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali offering no apologies and making no attempt to hide his plan.

"I didn't want to lie. I just wanted to say the truth. It would have been easy to (lie) but that is not our style, my style," he said. "The data we had we knew the left side of the grid was very bad. I wanted to be totally honest. If in my shoes other team principals would say a different thing, they are lying."

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