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Alonso calls on Ferrari to 'find holes'

13 December 2012

Barbed comments from both sides of the 2012 F1 title battle look set to shape any potential rematch between Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel next season.

While the drivers themselves may not have too many issues with each other - a couple of Monza contretemps aside – suggestions that their respective teams have been pushing the boundaries when it comes to rules and sportsmanship continue to rumble on into the winter break.

Vettel's Red Bull squad was once again the focus of the stewards in 2012, as the radical thinking of its design team regularly caused raised eyebrows in other sections of the pit-lane. Although nothing was deemed outright illegal this season, tests were strengthened and ideas quashed on several occasions, helping to keep the title fight alive to the final round.

Alonso, however, has suggested that Ferrari may need to start sailing closer to the wind technically if it is to give him a chance of beating Vettel to the 2013 crown.

“There were several incidents in which the other teams were at the limit, but not us,” the Spaniard told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, “This has always happened and always will but we, too, have to think within the confines of the rules while looking for some limits, some holes, like the other teams do in order to improve our performances.”

While Alonso appears to be blameless in the incident, Ferrari can hardly regard itself as entirely pure when it comes to stretching the letter of the law, having sacrificed Felipe Massa's qualifying performance in Austin in order to boost Alonso's grid slot and title bid.

Ironically, having endured several stories through the year linking it to Vettel from 2014, Ferrari's reaction to the title bid and its eventual resolution – when it sought clarification on a supposed yellow flag pass by the German which could have affected the destiny of the title – could cost it any chance of pairing F1's two star names in the future.

“Sebastian has the memory of an elephant, he logs everything,” Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko explained to Germany's Sport Bild magazine, “And he will remember exactly how Ferrari behaved after the finale. It was below the belt.”

Vettel won the championship by just three points after securing the sixth place finish he needed to counter Alonso's run to second at Interlagos. A penalty for overtaking under yellow flags would have dropped him to eighth and allowed Alonso to take the crown by a single point.

“You don't want to lose, but you still should know how to,” Vettel said of the protest, “You have to respect your opponent and recognise their good performances….”

For his part, Alonso insists that, while Ferrari was within its rights to question the result of the Brazilian race, Vettel was still a deserving champion.

"The decision to ask for an explanation on the yellow flag was almost mandatory out of respect for all the Ferrari fans who wanted clarification on the situation,” the Spaniard reasoned, “The FIA said that, at that moment, the green flag was out, so everything is relaxed. It was the right decision and the case is closed. Vettel is the rightful champion as he earned more points than anyone.”

Despite his near miss in the standings, the double champion continues to rate his season as one of his best, but admits that he would rather not have to fight quite so hard in 2013.

"I'm very happy with my season - it was a perfect year and will be difficult to repeat,” he confirmed, “However, 2013 should be even better.

“It will be impossible to begin worse than I did last season, although Red Bull will certainly be the favourites, at least at the beginning. They finished in dominating fashion and the rules will be more or less the same. In the final races, they had 6-8 tenths per lap over us.

“We'll have to make up that gap in two months. It won't be easy, so there will be a lot of work to do. There's always room for improvement and things that you can develop. With the experience and technology at our disposal, there are certain aspects that we can improve.

“[We want] to finish first and second every Saturday and Sunday. There were teams that managed [to do that] in recent years, like McLaren or Red Bull. Even Lotus got on the podium with [Romain] Grosjean and [Kimi] Raikkonen, but not us…. We'll have to work overtime in the winter, but the starting point should be far better compared to last season."


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