x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Formula One: Fernando Alonso believes he can take title

Fernando Alonso says he can afford few mistakes but still believes he can overtake Sebastian Vettel and steal this season's driver's championship, writes Gary Meenaghan.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso admits he can afford few mistakes but still believes he can overhaul Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull for the driver's title.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso admits he can afford few mistakes but still believes he can overhaul Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull for the driver's title.

SILVERSTONE, England // Capable and confident, Fernando Alonso is looking to take belief from his own capitulation of last year as he tries to overhaul Sebastian Vettel's lead in the drivers' standings and claim a third world championship title.

The Spaniard sits 36 points behind Vettel in the standings going into the British Grand Prix, but insists that with this weekend's race being only the eighth of a 19-contest season there is still plenty time to turn things around.

Last year, the Ferrari driver led the championship by 40 points at the halfway stage, yet lost out to his German rival at the final race of the season.

Vettel, the sport's youngest three-time world champion, has won two of the past four grands prix and looked dominant two weeks ago, in Canada.

Of greater concern, however, is that Red Bull appear to be improving with every race, while also avoiding the kind of misfortune that has hurt the likes of Ferrari or Lotus.

"Thirty-six points behind the leader, we don't have much more room to do mistakes or lose many more points.

"But, on the other side, we need to remain calm, we need to do our job, the maximum we can every weekend. If we can win the race, if we can finish in front of Sebastian, will be great. If we cannot do it, we will try to lose the minimum points.

"Last year, after Monza, I had an advantage of around 40 points over Sebastian and it was not enough - and that was Monza time.

"So now, being in the race for the championship 36 points behind, it's not the ideal position, but it's not the end of the world."

Alonso was forced to retire in Malaysia after damaging his front wing on the opening lap. He has endured disappointing races in Bahrain and Monaco.

Kimi Raikkonen, the Lotus driver who remains in the hunt, has also managed only three points in the past two races, compared to Vettel's 45.

"Vettel has been nearly perfect with no down races, always performing well in qualifying and with very good races," Alonso added.

"Obviously, I had two unlucky situations, one in Malaysia and one in Bahrain.

"Kimi was leading the championship and then was very close until he had two unlucky situations, one in Monaco and one in Canada, which was a mixed race for him.

"So we need to keep fighting, we need to keep pushing to recover these bad races we have had. Red Bull is improving really well, compared to the first part of the championship. We need to raise our game if we want to arrive at him."

 

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

 

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