Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen won the race in one hour, 45 minutes and 58 seconds, with Alonso in second and Red Bull’s Vettel ending third despite starting at the back of the grid.
Vettel’s heroics mean that he still leads Alonso by 10 championship points, yet the Spaniard was bullish after the race.
“I repeat – they have the quicker car, we have the better team,” he said. “Everyone fights with the weapons they have at their disposal: we will not manage to turn our car into the quickest of the pack with a wave of a magic wand, but we will counter their performance with the perfection of our team.”
Alonso has two races – in the US, and Brazil – to overtake Vettel and claim his first title since 2006.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton led from pole yesterday and was on track for a resounding win before his car broke down on lap 20 of 55.
Raikkonen moved into the lead while Alonso overtook Williams’ Pastor Maldonado into second.
Despite starting last on the grid due to a penalty, and damaging his car mid-race, Vettel weaved his way to an unlikely podium finish.