Ferrari admitted that it had little to celebrate after the United States Grand Prix yielded fifth and twelfth place finishes, but at least had the consolation of seeing Fernando Alonso wrap up second place in the drivers' championship.
It was almost a question of the Spaniard limping across the line, and some way behind champion Sebastian Vettel at that. The Red Bull driver secured his fourth consecutive title in India three races ago, leaving the focus of attention on the battle for second in both the driver and constructor standings.
While Ferrari slipped further behind Mercedes in the latter, after Alonso proved unable to hunt down Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages and Nico Rosberg eluded Felipe Massa to secure ninth on the road in Austin, Alonso's remarkable run of scoring finishes at least secured 'best of the rest' honours in the individual competition.
“I am very proud of this second place in the drivers' championship,” Alonso insisted, “It's a small reward for me, the same as being first of the 'mortals' behind Red Bull. But we really must improve [in Brazil], because our goal is still to finish second in the
Despite posting his best qualifying result for some time, Alonso found himself on the wrong side of the grid when it came to getting a decent getaway, and he initially slipped back down the order. It was only after swapping the medium compound Pirellis that he started on for the harder 'prime' tyre that his race came alive, picking off the McLaren ahead of him and closing on Lewis Hamilton before having to settle for fifth spot.
“Finishing in the top five is a very positive result when you consider how difficult this weekend has been, and the fact I had to start from the dirty side of the track,” the Spaniard claimed, “We were well aware that it would be very difficult to maintain position and, in fact, I lost it to [Sergio] Perez.
“In the first part of the race, we weren't quick and we decided to save the tyres and then attack around the pit-stop. We were more competitive on the hard [tyres], passed Perez and set off to get [Nico] Hulkenberg. However, even if our situation compared to Mercedes has improved, we were still unable to beat them.”
Reporting that he was suffering no further ill-effects from the back injury he incurred in Abu Dhabi, Alonso sounded a lot more positive that team boss Stefano Domenicali, who called on the Scuderia to raise its game for the final showdown at Interlagos this weekend.
“This weekend ended with a result that can't be seen as satisfactory,” Domenicali sighed, “The race lacked any major dramatic moments and the outcome was decided on the first lap. Once again, the qualifying result conditioned our performance and, on
this occasion, the regret is even stronger.
“The gap to fifth place yesterday was minimal and, if we'd started from the clean side of the track, maybe we would have witnessed a different race. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out like that and now we must grit our teeth all the way to the end in Brazil, trying our best to maximize the car's potential, because I expect the team to react in
The Italian was more forthcoming when it came to discussing Alonso's achievement in finishing second in the championship.
“Today's result rewards Fernando's extraordinary consistency, second on three occasions in the last four years, [which is] a small reward up against the Red Bull steamroller,” he said, “Thanks to his fifth place, the battle for second in the constructors' championship is still open, even if we will have to keep an eye on Lotus, which although fourth, seems to be, to all intents and purposes, the second force in the championship.”