9 September 2013
Italian Grand Prix: Alonso: We have to be realistic about our title chances, but...
Fernando Alonso refuses to give up on his 2013 F1 championship challenge despite defeat in Ferrari's home race at Monza.
Fernando Alonso has said that Ferrari will continue to fight its championship corner for as long as possible, despite admitting that the current points situation is not favourable.
The Spaniard was forced to accept second place as Sebastian Vettel romped to victory in the Italian Grand Prix, and now faces a 53-point deficit to the Red Bull driver with seven races remaining on the 2013 schedule. However, with his own 2012 fortunes clearly still fresh in his mind – Alonso saw a 40-point championship advantage whittled away in the closing stages last year – the Ferrari team leader insists that no-one at Maranello is ready to give up on the title.
After a frustrating qualifying session – where the failure of Ferrari's attempt to use team-mate Felipe Massa to provide a tow resulted in some choice words from the Spaniard – Alonso responded with a typically fighting race day performance.
Gaining a place off the line, he subsequently forced his way past Red Bull's Mark Webber at the Roggia chicane, before being met with little resistance while taking second place from his team-mate on lap eight. From there on, however, it was a case of trying to eat into the gap already established by Vettel. Although Alonso led briefly while trying to stretch his first stint, on the medium compound Pirellis, as far as possible, the margin proved impossible to breach and it was only in the closing stages, when Red Bull warned Vettel about a gearbox problem, that the gap between the top two began to come down.
“Stepping onto the Monza podium is always a special feeling, as it's the only one where you can feel all the love that the fans have for the team and it's the best prize at the end of what was an almost perfect weekend,” Alonso explained, “When Vettel pitted, we were still doing green sector times, so we opted to lengthen the stint as much as possible, at least while Webber was not becoming a threat. That way, we could have tried to get Vettel on hard tyres that were fresher by a few laps. We tried our best.”
Although the Spaniard only achieved one of the aims he had set himself at the start of the Monza weekend - to finish on the podium and ahead of Vettel – Ferrari was encouraged by signs of a pick-up in general performance ahead of the 'flyaways' that begin in Singapore appointment in a fortnight's time. With a points difference that now stretches beyond two race wins, Alonso accepts that the championship race is beginning to get away from the Scuderia but, having seen his 2012 ambitions tempered by DNFs in Belgium and Japan, he is not giving up just yet.
“Even if we have to be realistic about our championship chances, as it's not an easy task to close down a 53-point gap in the few remaining races, anything can happen,” he stressed, “We will believe in our chances all the way to the finish line in Brazil, always trying to give a hundred per cent.”
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