Many have hailed Fernando Alonso as the driver of the 2012 Formula 1 season, taking a car that was demonstrably not the fastest to within a few points of the world championship.
His three victories in the Malaysian, European and German Grands Prix helped him to a 40-point lead at one point, but he wasn't quite able to hold off the charging Sebastian Vettel late on.
During the year, Alonso was never anything less than quotable and made very clear the scale of the task that faced him.
Fernando Alonso: 2012 in quotes
"There has been a tendency from the media's point of view to believe that Ferrari is having a bad pre-season, or that the car for some dark reason that we know is a bad one... but apart from a slight delay due to the complexity of the car, we haven't seen the light and we weren't inside any tunnels before."
Responding to being asked if Ferrari is seeing light at the end of the tunnel during pre-season testing
"A big surprise today. I think we were not competitive in Australia and not competitive here and the goal was to score as many points as possible. Today it was 25, so an unbelievable result."
Struggling to believe that he's won in wet/dry conditions in Malaysia
"It's really difficult to express in words what is the feeling at the moment. Winning the home grand prix is something unique, a very special feeling. I had the opportunity in Barcelona in 2006 with Renault and I still remember that moment perfectly. But now I had opportunity with Ferrari, with the grandstands full of red colours. I'm feeling very proud, and winning this race in Spain is probably the best victory I ever felt in terms of emotions. Nothing can compare to this one."
Struggling for what to say after winning the European Grand Prix in Valencia from 11th on the grid
"To increase the lead in the championship up to 40 points is something that we didn't expect. We go into the summer break with points in the pocket that maybe we are surprised to have."
Admitting his surprise to be leading the championship comfortably heading into the August break
"I'm lucky that I can be in the car in five days at Monza because looking at the image, we were turning in so you could have a problem with your hands or even your head because [Grosjean's] car was so close. I think we broke everything on top of the car. It was lucky in that respect."
Escaping injury in the Romain Grosjean-inspired Spa first corner shunt
"In 2010, they [Red Bull] were more than one second faster than us and we were leading the championship in Abu Dhabi. Now they are eight tenths to one second faster than us and we are leading the championship. Let's say we are used to this situation, to be one second slower than our competitors and fight for the championship."
Accepting that he will be playing catch-up on track in the closing stages of the season
"I had no space. On the right, I had [Jenson] Button and on my left, I had Kimi [Raikkonen]. I don't understand why Kimi didn't lift off or anything because there was not any room. I don't know what Kimi's idea was for the first corner, but that is the way it is and this time it was bad luck for us."
Blaming Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen for their first-corner collision at Suzuka
"At the moment we are not fighting against Sebastian only. We are also fighting against [Adrian] Newey let's say."
Highlighting Red Bull's trump card in the world championship fight
"I remain 100 per cent confident we will fight for the championship and we will win it."
Keeping the faith as the title scrap tightens
"You just have the feeling that some years you have done a good job and others when you feel there was something missing or something you wanted to change or want to improve for next year. I think it's been a perfect year. It's going to be nearly impossible to repeat that in my career."
Reflecting on a remarkable season
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- Motor Racing
- Fernando Alonso