Fernando Alonso was back on the podium again after a chaotic finish to the Australian Grand Prix, with his third consecutive third-place finish from the first three races of the 2023 season.
But just as had been the case last time out in Saudi Arabia, the outcome today was far from straightforward with Alonso experiencing the full range of highs and lows before the result was finally settled.
Starting from fourth place on the grid, the Aston Martin driver initially lost a position to Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, but he gained two spots when he was able to make his pit stop under a red flag for Alex Albon's retirement on lap 8.
After that he was able to stay in the top three for the rest of the afternoon, rebuffing attacks from both Sainz and George Russell who had lost out by pitting too soon.
But just when it appeared that the race was heading to a quiet finish, a late red flag led to a standing restart which put him alongside Sainz on the grid.
When the lights went out, the Ferrari tried to sweep across the track only to make contact with Alonso who was spun around, ejecting him from the top ten.
But seconds later the race was red flagged again - which is where it got really confusing. It took several minutes before race control decided on another restart, but crucially with the order reset to the previous grid positions.
It meant that Alonso was back in third place after all and on his way to the podium, while Sainz was handed a five second penalty for causing the collision which dropped him from fourth to 12th because the cars were so closely packed together for the restart.
"On the contact with Carlos after the restart, I’m sure he didn’t mean to do it so I think the penalty for him was quite harsh in the end," Alonso told the media afterwards. "I didn't see the replay properly, but for me it feels too hard."
Alonso agreed that he seems to be making a habit of getting hit by other cars during starts and restarts. "I'm very attractive out there! But our car is strong enough, so you know it doesn't matter if they keep touching us.
"I was pretty sure that I could be second, to be honest, in the last start, because we've been very good, very strong on the starts. It was good again, I was side-by-side into turn 1.
"[But] you also sometimes have to realise there are a lot of risks as well. Every time there is this kind of restart, and maybe you end up with a DNF - which was very close for me this time."
While the immediate follow-up red flag meant he was reinstated into P3, it recalled the confusion in Saudi Arabia where a post-race penalty had to be overturned on appeal before he could claim the trophy.
"We had a rollercoaster of emotions today," he admitted, concurring with the suggestion that he'd rarely seen anything like Sunday's chaos in his 358-race career in Formula 1.
"It was probably my craziest race here in Melbourne, but it’s great to come away with another podium," he said. "We have to be pleased with this start to the season and three podiums in as many races
"Many things going on at the beginning [of today's race], but then also at the end now, you know - the last half an hour it was difficult to understand what's going on!
"The first red flag did help us, because George and Carlos came in," he recalled. "So we took those places for free. And the second red flag probably didn't help, obviously, with the incident there.
"But then we got lucky again and we had another opportunity now to just see the chequered flag in P3," he said, adding that picking up another third was "just amazing" for the team.
Asked what he wanted from the rest of the season, Alonso said: "I guess a little bit higher up on the podium, because three third places, let's go for a second place at least!"
In the second half of the race, Alonso had tried hard to catch Lewis Hamilton for second place before the red flag stoppage - but ultimately wasn't able to find the pace he needed to pull it off.
"We had an interesting battle with Lewis for second. The pace of the car was good and we kept up the pressure on, but Mercedes were very fast and Lewis did an incredible job today.
"Every time that I tried to get close he seemed to pick up the pace. I tried to put some pressure, but you know he had an incredible race, no mistakes at all, as you probably expect from him - a champion.
"I was trying to put pressure but nothing happened," he acknowledged. "But [I had] only one lock-up, I think - turn 13 - in 58 laps, so yeah, I will take P3."
His team mate Lance Stroll also benefitted from the red flag do-over at the end to finish in fourth place, bumping Aston Martin ahead of Mercedes into second place in the constructors championship on 65 points.
"We should be pleased with the result we’ve come away with today: third and fourth is great for the team," noted the Canadian.
"We’ve come away from a chaotic race with a solid haul of points for the team, and to be second in the constructors’ championship after three races is very positive."