Shanghai, Oct 7: McLaren's Fernando Alonso had prayed for a miracle to stay in the Formula One title chase after crashing out of last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix and his wish was granted in China today.
But he may still need another, or at least ''some strange results and some very lucky moves'' as he put it, to be champion for a third year in a row.
The Spaniard, 12 points behind team mate Lewis Hamilton at the start of the penultimate race of the season, finished second while the 22-year-old British rookie suffered the first retirement of his 16-race Formula One career.
The gap at the top was slashed to just four points, with only Brazil remaining, while Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen remained in a three-way title scrap after a victory that left him seven points off the lead.
''This eight points is a help for sure,'' said Alonso.
''Hopefully I can do a good race (in Brazil) but for the championship, I still need something really dramatic if I want to win. With a normal race, it will be impossible,'' he added.
''I think it will be very difficult in the championship because I know that it will not be easy to take four points off Lewis.''
Alonso, who won both of his titles with Renault in Brazil, could never have expected such a turnaround with the race seeming to have Hamilton's name on it from the moment he roared off from pole position in the lead.
The Spaniard had qualified fourth, a situation that put him in a black mood on Saturday while McLaren bosses did not attempt to hide their delight in Hamilton's performance.
''I am very happy now,'' said Alonso, whose relationship with his team has steadily disintegrated over the season in the face of a spying controversy and the rise of Hamilton as a championship favourite.
''Yesterday, I did not say anything that is not true,'' he continued, alluding to comments he made to Spanish reporters on Saturday criticising the team for their treatment of him since he joined from Renault.
''The team has been saying many bad things about me, from Spa onwards especially, so the relationship didn't change too much,'' he added.
''He (McLaren boss Ron Dennis) was the first one to say that he was not speaking with me and things like that. From that point, I understood that the championship was not going to be easy for me.'' Alonso said that even when he saw Hamilton's car stuck in the gravel on the big screen as he was lapping, he had felt little emotion.
The Briton skidded into the gravel trap as he pitted for the second time, leaving the car stuck despite the efforts of marshals to push him free.
''I didn't know if he was retiring or not,'' said Alonso. ''At the Nuerburgring I saw on the big screen that he was in the gravel and then he was on the track again with the recovery car, so I didn't know if it was a definite retirement or not.''