'More than perfect race' for Alonso
4 November 2012
Ferrari may have been hoping that Sebastian Vettel would not prove quite so successful in overcoming his pit lane start to the 2012 F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, but they were more than happy with Fernando Alonso netting second place on the podium at Yas Marina.
"I'm happy with the way this weekend turned out," said Alonso. "It's true that with Sebastian last, there was an opportunity to reduce the gap more significantly but it's equally true that our performance and our grid position could have seen us lose points in this Grand Prix.
"I fought from start to finish: first with Maldonado, then Jenson and, in the end I tried to go and catch Kimi. I could not relax for a single lap," he said. "There were a number of unexpected retirements and two neutralisation periods that did not really come at the right time or suit us, but these are things beyond our control.
"Tonight I will go to sleep thinking the glass is half full rather than half empty," he added, pointing out that the team's pre-race simulations had pointed to a finish between fourth and sixth place and that he had handily exceeded those projections by finishing second.
"The simulation put us somewhere between fourth and sixth and we finished second, therefore once again this was a more than perfect race, running at the maximum from start to finish.
"They have the quicker car, we have the better team," he said. "Everyone fights with the weapons they have at their disposal: we will not manage to turn our car into the quickest of the pack with a wave of a magic wand, but we will counter their performance with the perfection of our team."
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said that Abu Dhabi has been "yet another great race from Fernando, in what is an amazing season for him." While Vettel's recovery drive meant that the Red Bull driver is still in the lead of the championship battle, the gap back to Alonso is down to ten points, Domenicali insisted that "everything is still up for grabs."
"Ten points is a lot but it can also be seen as very few," he continued. "If we had been offered this gap on leaving Abu Dhabi, immediately after qualifying yesterday evening, maybe we would have taken it."
But he also acknowledged that things hadn't worked out as well as they might have done, given the handicap that Vettel had needed to overcome with his pit lane start.
"It's also true that this afternoon, before the start, our prospects had changed," he agreed. "Definitely, the way the race played out and the incidents that occured, did not do us any favours in light of the championship, but these are circumstances over which we have no control."
Now the title fight heads to the United States and the inaugural Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Vettel could easily clinch the title there, if he manages to outscore Alonso by 15 points or more.
"Let's hope we can get a good result and put on a good show in an important country like the United States," said Alonso. "[It's] a new circuit for everyone: we have just had a taste of it on the simulator, but the track is something else."
The question is whether the track will suit Ferrari or their Red Bull rivals, and whether the title battle will be decided there on November 18 or will roll on the season finale at Sao Paulo in Brazil the following weekend.