Singapore Grand Prix winner Fernando Alonso has admitted that, while he and the Renault team would love to repeat the emotions of two weekends ago, it will be hard to beat McLaren and Ferrari two races running.
Speaking in the build-up to this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji, the double world champion revealed that he still could not believe that he had managed to take the R28 to victory in F1's first night race, but remained realistic when it came to evaluating his chances for the second of the late season 'flyaways'.
"I was extremely happy [in Singapore," he admitted, "We had had a difficult start to the season and so to be fighting for the win a few months later seemed unbelievable.
"But the team didn't give up and we never lowered our aims. From the first practice session in Singapore, we were on the pace; the car was working well, and we had high hopes for the weekend. Qualifying was a big disappointment but, in the race, our luck changed and we were able to take advantage of the situation. It was an amazing feeling and I want to thank all the members of the team once again for their efforts over the last few months, because it's thanks for them that this victory was possible. After Singapore, however, the whole team is determined to have those feelings again as soon as possible."
The purpose-built, and recently revamped, Fuji circuit could hardly be more different to the close confines of the city state, and Alonso is experienced enough to know that the R28, with its reported power deficit, could struggle to keep up with the likes of Toro Rosso, BMW Sauber and Toyota, let alone the regular pacesetters from Maranello and Woking.
"The Fuji circuit has a very long straight and so aero settings will once again be crucial," the Spaniard noted, "There are also several medium and low speed corners, and the last few turns in particular are taken in second gear, so the team will have to work hard to determine the level of downforce and the mechanical grip.
"We must remain focused and try to repeat our level of performance from Singapore to fight at the front, and will be running a similar programme to that which we run at other tracks that we visit once a year, looking to benefit from the free practice sessions on Friday as much as possible.
"It's true that a street circuit is always unusual and your level of performance depends on the competitiveness of your car, the set-up and your ability to take risks. We worked hard to develop some new parts for Singapore, but also for the final three races of the season, so I think that we can be on the pace in Fuji.
"As usual, we will give our maximum to try and make that the case, but I remain realistic as it will be difficult to race the Ferraris and McLarens. However, we will give our maximum to score as many points as possible because the fight for fourth in the championship remains very close."