| FERNANDO Alonso's immortal words after Saturday's qualifier left him in a poor 11th position – 'pole is important, but not decisive' – proved to be highly auspicious for the Oviedo-born racing driver as he pulled off the near-impossible at today's European Grand Prix in Valencia.
As if egged on to victory by his fans, Spain's former world champion pulled off nothing short of a motor-racing miracle on the street circuit in what was probably the best-ever performance of his career.
In what is turning out to be an unprecedented F1 season where literally anything can happen, Alonso not only bucked the never-seen-before trend of each race having gone to a different winner, but his second victory of 2012 sees him leading up the world rankings with 111 points, well ahead of last year's unstoppable Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) who has 85, three less than the UK's Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) and six behind Aussie team-mate Mark Webber.
And veteran Michael Schumacher made it to the podium for the first time this year, along with fellow old hand, Finland's Kimi Raikkonen.
Alonso broke down in tears on the podium, partly due to the excitement of his unexpected win and partly due to the sudden comedown after squeezing masses of energy out of himself, riding purely on the adrenalin that had pushed him through his one-hour, 44-minute, 57-lap race.
His spectacular comeback had fans who had travelled from all four corners of his native country roaring in delight as he shot past the chequered flag a whole three seconds ahead of Raikkonen, who finished second.
Even taking into account the unexpected turn of events that forced Hamilton and Vettel – those most likely to beat him – to retire, Alonso had to fight from the second he left the starting line near the back of the line-up.
All this came after the driver all the Spanish spectators were most looking forward to watching had snapped at Antena 3 television reporters in his bitter disappointment at not making it to the Q3 round due to his lamentable 11th position in the qualifier.
“Just sell the race to your public however you want, because there's going to be no podium for me this week – Sunday is going to see us losing points,” said a resigned and deflated Alonso when interviewed.
But after today's hitherto-unseen results and splendid performance by the Spanish Ferrari driver, who hurled his heart and soul into the race with the conviction that he had nothing to lose, Alonso is now within inches of beating the record set by the UK's Nigel Mansell in 1992 after he made it to the podium for the 31st time.
Only three other racing drivers in history have beaten this, meaning Alonso could one day hold the record for the highest-ever number of victories.