Buoyed by Renault's beneficial result in the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend, Fernando Alonso says he is more confident than ever of returning the regie
to the top four of the Formula One world championship.
The Spaniard finished fourth at Spa-Francorchamps after appearing to make up two places on the drag from the Bus Stop chicane to the finish line and, coupled with Timo Glock's demotion from eighth place, Renault carved five points from Toyota's cushion in fourth overall. Now, heading to the final European race of the season, at Monza, this weekend, the double world champion is determined to further reduce the gap between the teams.
"Our objective is clearly to finish in fourth place in the constructors' championship and I'm determined to do all I can to help the team do that," Alonso insisted, "The battle is very close, as it has been since the start of the year, and each point will be important at the end of the season. We scored five at Spa, which is a good result in terms of the championship, and we were pleased to see that we were on the pace and the third strongest team. We are five points behind Toyota with five races to go, so I think that is an achievable target."
Encouraged by the pace the still-evolving R28 showed in the Ardennes, and carrying the knowledge that its reliability is much improved, Alonso is looking forward to the challenge of Monza which, as he points out, is very different to anything else on the calendar.
"It's an outstanding, fast circuit and drivers always like to go fast!" he smiled, "The feeling in the car is always a bit strange for the first few laps, because we run with very low downforce, so it feels very light and uncertain. That makes the chicanes quite challenging, but it's an interesting circuit, and there is always a special atmosphere.
"We drove in Monza three weeks ago and completed our programme without any problems, which means we are well prepared for this race. The aerodynamic performance will be the decisive factor, while tyre evaluation will probably take up most of our technical programme on Friday. After Monza, we leave Europe for the final few 'flyaway' races, and it would be good to score points in Italy so we can attack the final part of the season in the best shape possible."
Rookie team-mate Nelsinho Piquet saw his recent improved record take a hit when he spun off at Spa, but the Brazilian is determined to bounce back at a circuit where he has enjoyed success in the junior ranks.
"I love Spa and was disappointed not to finish the grand prix, but I was very heavy on fuel and couldn't really fight with the drivers around me," he reflected "Then I made a mistake and finished up in the tyre wall. It's a shame because I think I could have scored some points, especially as the end of the race was so eventful and might have played into our hands.
"Although Monza is not among my favourites, it's still an unusual circuit and an interesting challenge for the drivers. My aim is to do better than in Spa, that goes without saying, but qualifying will be important and I really hope to be fast enough to reach Q3. That will allow us to approach this race calmly, with a more straightforward strategy, and hopefully fight for some points.