x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Alonso wants fast track to F1 title through Hungary Grand Prix

The Ferrari driver is optimistic despite slower car and a good record for McLaren at the Hungaroring circuit.

Fernando Alonso has two wins and a second place in his last three outings.
Fernando Alonso has two wins and a second place in his last three outings.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso could celebrate his 31st birthday by winning his 31st Grand Prix on Sunday at the Hungaroring circuit where he claimed his first Formula One victory nine years ago.

McLaren will hope to get the most out of their upgraded car after Lewis Hamilton's bad luck in Germany and Red Bull will want to put a troubled weekend in Hockenheim behind them.

Alonso will go into the August break on top of the standings whatever happens at the ageing, twisty Hungaroring, where temperatures usually soar after the cooler races in Britain and Germany.

Although Alonso's Ferrari is not the fastest car on the circuit, the Spaniard has amassed 154 points, shooting 34 clear of Red Bull's Mark Webber (120).

Webber's teammate Sebastian Vettel, the world champion, is a further 10 points back in third place followed by Kimi Raikkonen and Hamilton, who are both in the 90s.

After two grands prix and a second place in his last three outings, a fourth win of the season would put Alonso well on course for a third F1 title to add to the ones he won as a youngster with Renault in 2005 and 2006.

"I don't want anyone to come to Hungary better prepared than me, physically or mentally or more motivated than me and I always try and win this competition that runs alongside the one on the track," Alonso said.

"I expect to go well in Budapest and there is no reason to be pessimistic. However, I am not forgetting that Red Bull and McLaren were quicker [at Hockenheim]."

Stefano Domenicali, the Ferrari team principal, described it as a key race and said: "We know we still have a lot of work to do, because we are still not the fastest."

Reliability has become the watchword for Ferrari, who have not had a retirement since the opening race in Australia while Alonso has managed a top 10 finish in every round.

He has also racked up 22 successive races in the points. "We must keep concentrating to the maximum, especially on the reliability front," Domenicali said.

Alonso became the youngest driver to win a grand prix when he led from pole to flag in Budapest in 2003 at the age of 22, a record subsequently taken by Vettel in 2008 aged 21.

He is not the only one who has happy memories of Budapest.

McLaren have won five of the last seven races there.

"We know we've got a good car and a good recent track record there," Martin Whitmarsh, the team principal, said.

"Winning just before the shutdown is always positive because it provides you with great momentum across the summer break."

McLaren's performance upgrades have thrust them back into contention with Jenson Button finishing second at Hockenheim, although Hamilton suffered the frustration of an early puncture and eventual retirement.

Meanwhile, Vettel was stripped of his second place because of an illegal passing manoeuvre and dropped to fifth.

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