Only a matter of weeks ago, McLaren-Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton alluded to the 'mind games' that tend to characterise any world championship run-in – and the Briton's former team-mate and bitter sparring partner Fernando Alonso has now given a pertinent example of just such a tactic in publicly 'doubting' Red Bull Racing's ability to dominate the final three outings of the campaign.
Alonso finished as 'best-of-the-rest' in third place behind the two runaway Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, and heading towards Korea, Brazil and Abu Dhabi, the Spaniard sits 14 points in arrears of the Australian in the title standings, and has already professed his conviction that 'three more podiums should be enough'. Besides, he reasons, it's not as if RBR will walk away with each and every one of the races to come.
“They are the favourite for all the remaining circuits and all the ones beforehand,” the double F1 World Champion told Spanish newspaper El Pais
, “but in 16 races they have only managed three doubles (one-twos), so I doubt they can do three more.
“The most important thing is that the points situation has been coming my way. Now it has to continue. There are still three races to go and I know I can do it.”
The ever-partisan Italian media, meanwhile, has been making much of the apparent tensions at Red Bull by pointing to the fact that Webber's only representation at Vettel's post-Suzuka team celebration photograph was in the guise of a cardboard cut-out, and Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali argues that it is very much 'game on' for glory between now and season's end.
“If we do a better job than them in qualifying, we can beat them on race pace,” the Italian boldly asserted in an interview with Spanish news agency EFE
. “We knew Suzuka was a difficult circuit for us, so it was good to see the result. Now the world championship is very, very open. We have three races left in which anything is possible.”