In the cool light of day after his palpable post-race anger and emotion, Fernando Alonso has refused to point the finger of responsibility at Ferrari for his missing out on a third drivers' world championship crown in the F1 2010 finale in Abu Dhabi at the weekend – arguing that in the circumstances, his team faced 'a very difficult call'.
Having ceded a position at the start of the race to 2009 world champion Jenson Button, Alonso was running fourth – where he needed to be – ahead of his chief rival Mark Webber when the Red Bull Racing star pitted a fifth of the way through. In order to make sure of covering the Australian, Ferrari pitted Alonso four laps later – but in so doing, seemed to forget about Nico Rosberg and Vitaly Petrov, who had both stopped under the early safety car period and consequently leapfrogged the title-contending duo.
Indeed, the pair lost so much time behind Petrov that the Russian's Renault F1 team-mate Robert Kubica was similarly able to jump them when he himself pitted in the closing stages, and with Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Button all holding station at the front of the field, Alonso and Webber ultimately took the chequered flag seventh and eighth, too far back to deprive the young German of the laurels.
Having spent the majority of the grand prix staring at the back of Petrov's gearbox, Alonso made clear his frustration afterwards with an indignant and petulant shake of his fist on the slowing-down lap – contending that the F1 2010 rookie had been too 'aggressive' in his defence of his position. Either way, the damage was done – but Alonso insists it would be wrong to blame Ferrari for what in hindsight looks to have been an extremely costly strategic blunder.
“It's very easy to see the best strategy after the race,” the Oviedo native told the BBC
, “but this is sport, this is motor racing – sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. It was obviously a tough race, a difficult race. I lost a position at the start and then when the safety car came out, Petrov and Rosberg came in. We saw some problems with the soft tyres; Webber pitted, and then we tried to cover him.
“When you cover someone, probably you give something away to the others. If we hadn't stopped, I think Webber probably would have overtaken us, and if we stopped we covered from Webber but let Petrov and Rosberg in front – so it was a very difficult call.
“Then it was difficult to overtake Petrov. The Renault is very quick on top speed, so it was a frustrating race behind him. I tried to pass him once and he protected like it was the last lap, in the last race of the championship, both of us fighting for the championship. He was very aggressive, but he drove very well and made no mistakes.
“Congratulations to Red Bull and Sebastian, but next year we will try again. For me, coming back to winning races and fighting for the championship [in 2010] was very good. I overtook Niki Lauda and Juan-Manuel Fangio in race wins, big names in F1, and for me this is something amazing. I'm sure that with this team it is very possible to fight for championships in the future, so I am very happy.”
Rob Smedley, race engineer to Alonso's Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa – who crossed the finish line even further back in tenth at Yas Marina – conceded that it had not been the Scuderia's
brightest of days.