He might have just become the 'winningest' driver of F1 2010, and his impeccable Korean Grand Prix victory might have vaulted him back into the lead of the title chase for the first time since very early on in the campaign, but still Fernando Alonso is adamant that he is not
the favourite to clinch the drivers' crown.
Having stated several weeks ago that his objective for the final few races would be to finish up on the podium in each and every one of them and that such consistency should be enough, Alonso has kept his word and then some. With his Korean success making it three triumphs from the last four outings – and third place in the other, at Suzuka – the Ferrari star is now eleven points clear at the head of the standings.
Granted, the Spaniard arguably did not have the out-and-out pace to take the fight to Red Bull Racing duo Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber around the Korea International Circuit, but with the former suffering an engine failure and the latter crashing out on only the second racing lap, he was there in the right place at precisely the right time to pick up the pieces, and in treacherous conditions that caught out many, Alonso was faultless.
It is just such performances upon which world championships are built – as the Oviedo native himself well knows – but don't say he's in pole position to claim a third trophy in 2010, he pleads.
“It is a great feeling winning this way, as it was a very difficult victory given the track conditions,” the 29-year-old reflected. “Especially at the start, the situation on-track and in terms of visibility was really precarious. That was the most worrying time, because I knew it would be an achievement just to stay on the track – we had never driven here in the wet, so there was no reference point. The final stages were particularly difficult, too, because half the track was almost dry and the tyres were getting ruined really quickly.
“Webber's retirement slightly changed our approach because, all-in-all, it would have been sufficient to finish on the podium without taking too many risks. I witnessed both Red Bull problems from very close up – in these situations you try and stay super-concentrated, because you are coming from a high-speed corner and there is no time to think.
“Clearly, this was a great help for our championship chances, but luck proves that F1 is not just about the maths! If you think about what happened in races such as Valencia and Silverstone, you can really say that what goes around comes around. Now there are still 50 points up for grabs; Red Bull are still favourite, but we will continue to do our utmost and try to always get onto the podium.
“The car has improved so much in the second half of the year thanks to continuous updates; maybe we have come away with more than we expected, but we know the situation can change from one weekend to the next. All-the-same, these results are fully-deserved by the team, and my dream is to see everyone in it happy...”
Alonso's drive also came in for words of praise from Ferrari's chief track engineer, Chris Dyer, who described the result as the reward for an indefatigable spirit at Maranello and a staunch refusal to admit defeat, even when the odds have looked to be impossibly stacked against the Scuderia