x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Fernando Alonso remains focused at the front

The omens are looking good for Fernando Alonso taking another massive step towards clinching the world drivers' title at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso, right, claims to be ‘a fraction calmer’ now that the title is withing grasp.
Fernando Alonso, right, claims to be ‘a fraction calmer’ now that the title is withing grasp.

SAO PAULO // The omens are looking good for Fernando Alonso taking another massive step towards clinching the world drivers' title at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Interlagos is the circuit where Alonso was crowned when he won his first two championships, and he could possibly seal a third world title there this weekend.

If the Ferrari driver wins the race on Sunday and Red Bull-Renault's Mark Webber finishes fifth or worse, the Spaniard will again take the honours

He can also clinch the title if he finishes second and Webber places eighth or worse, McLaren-Mercedes's Lewis Hamilton is fourth or worse, and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel is second or worse.

However, the most likely scenario is that the title will be decided in Abu Dhabi next weekend in the final grand prix of the season.

"Naturally, I've got great memories of [Interlagos] because it was here that I secured my two titles, in 2005 and 2006," Alonso said.

"Every time I go to Sao Paulo it's a special feeling and the atmosphere is really great."

Ominously for the rest of the field, Alonso is the hottest driver arriving at the next-to-last race of the season, having won three of the last four grands prix to take the lead from Webber.

"I don't want to think about the chances of history repeating itself for a third time," Alonso said."I know it is theoretically possible, but that does not count for me."

He acknowledged, though, that the destiny of the title is now in Ferrari's own hands.

"That means we are a fraction calmer," he said, "but in no way does it change our approach. We want to tackle this grand prix in the same way as the others, keeping our feet on the ground and trying to do a good job with the aim of beating our rivals. I have said it before and will say it again - we'll do the maths in Abu Dhabi."

The last five titles have been won at Interlagos. Jenson Button last year clinched his first championship at the Sao Paulo circuit, and Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen also won it there following Alonso's consecutive triumphs.

Webber, who won last year's race, also will need a mistake-free run if he wants to keep his title hopes alive, especially coming off a costly error at the Korean GP two weeks ago.

He ran wide in a turn and spun and crashed, failing to finish and losing his points lead.

Webber is hoping he will perform well again at the circuit to win his fifth race of the season and stay in contention.

"I obviously have good memories from last year," he said. "It was a nice race to win and we will clearly be trying to get another victory this year.

"It's now coming to a pivotal stage of the championship and we need to make the most of every opportunity."

Alonso has 231 points, 11 more than Webber and 21 more than Hamilton, the runner-up in Korea and the only other driver with a reasonable chance of winning the title. Vettel (206) and Button (189) are mathematically alive but are longshots.

Wet conditions could be a factor in Brazil just like they were in Yeongam, and rain is forecast for Sunday in Sao Paulo.