Anthony Davidson spent an enjoyable afternoon at Monza, battling with drivers of vastly greater experience and working to cement a growing reputation as more than just a qualifying specialist.
He eventually finished in 14th, on the wrong end of a race-long tussle with Giancarlo Fisichella but still in a positive mood.
He said: “After a reasonably good start everyone was fairly well behaved into Turn One, but Vettel made contact with the rear of my car which damaged the diffuser.
“The car seemed to be quite good on a heavy fuel load and I was able to challenge Wurz in the Williams and also Fisichella. I then overtook him when he made a mistake round Parabolica and we had a good fight, which was probably the highlight of my race.
“Then as the fuel loads came down I think that we just struggled for speed a bit and it was hard to keep the faster cars behind me, but I managed to hold off Ralf in the Toyota right to the end, so I am happy enough with that.”
His team boss, Aguri Suzuki, felt that race had gone as well as could be hoped: “It was a tough race, but we performed at our potential. The drivers drove a solid race and I am happy to see another two-car finish.
“Our mechanics and engineers did a good job in the pitstops today, but in terms of race pace, we have to try to improve our car for the end of the season.
“It was always going to be a difficult weekend for us and I would like to thank everyone in the team and back home for their hard work.”
Later Davidson told Autosport that his fantastic qualifying lap in Turkey risked pigeonholing him: “People say, ‘you’re turning into a qualifying expert’ – but my races have been good as well.
“It just proves that it is a skill, it’s an art to get it together in qualifying, and I’m getting on top of that. But also in the races I’m getting stronger all the time.”