Fernando Alonso admitted he was particularly hard on Sebastian Vettel when the runaway points leader was attacking him in the opening stages of the Italian Grand Prix as he felt Vettel would not want to risk too much given his position in the standings.
Alonso had taken the race lead at the start, but was only able to hang on for just over a lap following the early restart before Vettel got through. The Red Bull ended up partially on the grass at Curva Grande at one point as Alonso tried to maintain his place.
"We have nothing to lose in the battles with Sebastian," said Alonso, who ultimately finished 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 start had seen Alonso move from fourth to first, taking to the grass as he went three-abreast with Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.
"We have been doing some good starts in last couple of grands prix but when starting fifth or sixth there was not enough room to overtake," Alonso said. "Here in 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."
He admitted 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."