Fernando Alonso has today issued a pick-me-up to Ferrari by backing the team stay in the hunt for the world championship “right down to the wire” in Brazil, insisting that the hard work that has got him into the championship lead can also keep him there.
Having already had to swim against the tide for the majority of the season, Alonso is in danger of losing the lead of the drivers’ standings for the first time since Canada back in June by the end of this Sunday’s race in Korea after Sebastian Vettel cut his advantage to just four points with his second straight win at Suzuka. Alonso meanwhile was taken out at the first corner for the second time since the summer break.
The more worrying trend for Ferrari has however been the failure of recent upgrades to deliver significant performance improvements to the F2012, with wind tunnel correlation problems reoccurring. With Vettel and Red Bull coming on particularly strongly in recent races, Alonso’s bid for a long-awaited third title has been put in serious jeopardy – but the Spaniard is retaining faith in Ferrari’s engineers to respond to the challenge just as they did at the start of the season.
“I am sure we can be in the fight right down to the wire,” the Spaniard today told the Ferrari website.
“The people who are working on the car are the same who have done the job so far and there’s no reason to think they can’t do a good job again now.
“Let’s not forget that, if I am still leading the championship, it’s because we have been capable of improving the car significantly compared to the start of the season and also because we are capable of always getting the most out of what we have to work with.
“We have not been gifted anything, indeed Spa and Suzuka deprived us of places that were easily within our grasp. It’s not through some sort of divine miracle that we are in this position, it is down to the work of all us, from first to last.”
Analysing the F2012’s form since Monza, Alonso argued that, Singapore aside, the car’s competitiveness hasn’t actually been as bad as some have suggested and that the season for all the top runners has been up and down. He also said that problematic upgrades, such as the recent spate of rear wings, also gained more attention at Ferrari than at other teams.
“For sure, there are some teams who, in this final part of the season have made a significant step forward, while we have not matched that, especially in terms of how the car behaves on certain types of track,” Alonso admitted.
“However, it is equally true that, at Monza for example, we had a car that was good enough to take pole, while then at Singapore, we got a bit lost and to a certain extent, we also suffered at Suzuka, even if there, Felipe showed he was pretty competitive in the race: if we weren’t as quick as the Red Bulls, we were at least a match for all the others.
“Actually, these ups and downs seem to be the norm this season: in Japan, the McLaren seemed less strong than in the previous race while Red Bull stepped up significantly, as indeed did Sauber. A lot’s been said about us, because everyone is always focused on the Red team: here for example, if we try a wing once, then don’t use it, it becomes news, but these things happen regularly in all teams. Now, all we need to do is get back on the right track and I’m sure we can do it.”