x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Formula One: Late push not enough to put Alonso on the podium

Spaniard is still second in standings after Ferrari's tyre strategy backfires at German Grand Prix.

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso at a pit stop during the German Grand Prix on Sunday. Mark Thompson / Getty Images
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso at a pit stop during the German Grand Prix on Sunday. Mark Thompson / Getty Images

Fernando Alonso has seen too much drama in Formula One to rule out another championship bid despite rival Sebastian Vettel taking maximum points in Germany and Ferrari's bold tyre strategy only partly working.

The Spaniard finished fourth Sunday to stay second in the standings as Red Bull Racing's triple world champion won for the first time at home to extend his overall lead to 34 points.

Very much like last week at the British Grand Prix, Alonso started eighth at the Nurburgring but fought his way up the field after Ferrari made a deliberate strategic call not to fight for pole position and start the race instead on the longer-lasting medium tyres, rather than the quicker softs.

A late tyre change to the softs had the Spaniard catching up but he was left with too much to do.

"It was a very good strategy. It was a strategy that gave us the possibility to fight for the podium," the 2005 and 2006 champion said. "We were not quick enough today, we didn't have the pace and even with that we tried for the podium and were very close to the leading group."

With no title but some very near misses in his three years at Ferrari, Alonso is well aware of the fickle hand of fate and still has his eye on the drivers' championship despite Vettel's form and the Lotus' starting to look quicker than the Italian team.

"We've seen stranger things in Formula One," he said.

"When the cars are so close, when they are so sensitive to changes, temperatures, loads, things like that, when you find something magical that changes the performance you can be competitive straight away," he said.

"The hope is there. We have time to make it up ... but we must make a step forward."

Just 10 races remain this season, with the next grand prix in Hungary on July 28 when another type of Pirelli tyre will be employed following last weekend's dangerous blowouts at Silverstone.

"The tyres were good, there were no more problems with safety," Alonso said, hoping it would be a case of more of the same in Budapest.

Alonso had a better day at least than his Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa who spun out of the race at the first turn on lap four.

Lewis Hamilton, who had started on pole position, failed to hide his irritation at the Pirelli tyres after he finished fifth in his Mercedes-GP after overtaking McLaren-Mercedes pair Jenson Button and Sergio Perez in the closing laps.

The 2008 world champion fell back through the field as he suffered with high tyre wear.

He said: "We really struggled with the second set of tyres which then compromised the rest of my race.

"It's a real shame as the team are working so hard and doing such a good job. We've clearly got a good car but for some reason, it doesn't work in these hot conditions."

It was a disappointing day for Mercedes in all with Nico Rosberg finishing down in ninth.

He said: "The car didn't feel so nice to drive today. We struggled a lot with the rear tyres and that's why we weren't able to match the pace of the guys in the front."

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