Fernando Alonso accepts that, with momentum on his side, he could be considered the new favourite for this year's F1 world championship title, but points out that no-one has managed to go on a long winning streak in 2010.
The Spaniard has won the last two races, in Italy and Singapore, to move into second place behind Red Bull's Mark Webber in the standings but, despite equalling the Australian's season-high tally of four victories, knows that his run is unlikely to last for ever, particularly with RBR expected to set the pace at Suzuka this weekend. While he naturally hopes to at least be a contender for the top three, however, Alonso insists that he and his Ferrari team need to keep calm when things don't appear to be going to plan.
"I think, if you see the last two races, [I am the favourite], because you arrive in a good moment," the double world champion told Britain's Guardian
newspaper, "It seems that you need to keep the momentum now for more races, but we saw this year that people that win two races, or have two or three podiums in a row, then they have some bad results and then they come back good. No-one had consistently six or seven races in a good level for different reasons, so we expect there will be difficult moments for us.
"What we need to do is be prepared for those moments, not panicking, and score as many points as possible at every race. We know sometimes it will be a podium, sometimes maybe a fifth position – it is in those moments when we need to be united and not panic."
Alonso points to the second half of the season as reason to be confident, having bounced back from a tough few months following his opening race victory in Bahrain. The turning point, he believes, came at the British Grand Prix, since when he has won three races to move back into contention for a title that many had begun to dismiss as unlikely.
"We had made some improvements to the car [for Silverstone] and it felt good," he reflected, "Before that, we had some up and downs, but the car was feeling okay, although not at the level of Red Bull Racing. After Silverstone, knowing it was a difficult weekend for us with the characteristics of the circuit being very good for Red Bull, we were still quite competitive there. With that car, I had much more confidence in fighting for the title than before. So, after Silverstone, I was more optimistic."
Alonso is the only driver among the five contesting the 2010 crown who has the full backing of his team, with Red Bull duo Webber and Sebastian Vettel and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button competing with their team-mates as well as the Spaniard. Ferrari's determination to take Alonso to the title was amply demonstrated at the German Grand Prix, when he benefited from team orders that cost the team a $100,000 fine, but he has since turned in two exemplary performances, at Monza and Marina Bay, to close to within eleven points of Webber at the top of the table.
"The decision to focus on Alonso has been proven to be right," team president Luca di Montezemolo insisted, "He is extremely strong and very close to the team, and has been able to blend in well from day one.
"It has been a strange season. We won the first race, then we had some problems with the development of the car, [but] the victories at Monza and Singapore have rekindled hope."
Montezemolo also pointed out that Alonso's team-mate, Felipe Massa, needs to step up in support of the Spaniard over the remaining four races.
"I want a strong Massa who will shave points off the rivals," he claimed earlier this week, "In Singapore, he had some bad luck, but he is in good condition to win. Those who race for Ferrari don't race for themselves, but for the Ferrari team colours."