x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Fernando Alonso: I'm no certainty

The Ferrari driver is taking nothing for granted going into the final round of the world championship in Abu Dhabi next weekend despite holding an eight-point lead.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso needs to finish one better in Abu Dhabi than he did in Brazil for the title.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso needs to finish one better in Abu Dhabi than he did in Brazil for the title.

Fernando Alonso is taking nothing for granted going into the final round of the world championship in Abu Dhabi next weekend despite holding an eight-point lead.

The double world champion finished third in his Ferrari at yesterday's Brazilian Grand Prix and knows that a top-two finish in next Sunday's race at the Yas Marina Circuit will guarantee him a third title.

But the 29-year-old is not looking that far ahead.

He said in the post-race press conference: "We saw today very easily how things can change, with safety cars, some things change and others not.

"If you make the wrong decision at the wrong moment you can be eighth or ninth and the title can be over.

"It is going to be a stressful weekend for all of us, but this is F1 and anything can happen next weekend.

"We all start from zero and we'll see who does a better job in seven days' time."

Although he is keeping his feet on the ground the Spaniard is well aware of what he needs to do to against the Red Bull-Renault pairing of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, his nearest challengers, if he is to add to the 2005 and 2006 championships that he won with Renault.

He added: "I need second place if Mark wins to be champion, a fifth if Seb wins so we see what happens."

Alonso was only able to challenge the Red Bulls late in yesterday's race following a safety car period after Vitantonio Liuzzi's Force India had crashed, but he was unable to get close enough to second-placed Webber to challenge.

He had lost ground to both Vettel and Webber in the opening laps of the race in Sao Paulo after he had to overtake the McLaren-Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, the other championship contender, and then Nico Hulkenberg's Williams-Cosworth to move up from fifth to third.

By the time he was in clear air he was 12 seconds adrift of Vettel and was unable to do anything about the pace of the Red Bull duo in front of him.

And he believed that delay had cost him the chance to fight for his sixth win of the season.

"I think we lost in the first laps of the race trying to overtaking Hamilton and Hulkenberg," he said. "Those 10-12 seconds we lost were impossible to catch, we were maybe one-two tenths faster some laps so when you lose 12 seconds it is over.

"We had a chance when the safety car was out but we found ourselves in the wrong position with so many [lapped] cars between Mark and us, to pass these seven cars the gap was six, seven seconds.

"Overall it was a good race for us - being on the podium. We knew it was not an easy thing to do but in terms of points we are extremely happy."

* Compiled by Graham Caygill