by Russell Atkins

Fernando Alonso has admitted he has no one but himself to blame for the 14-point deficit to team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the top of the drivers' standings midway through the 2007 season, but he insists it is not an irrecoverable gap.

The Spaniard - world champion for the past two years with Renault - has seen his bid to make it three titles in a row (a feat previously accomplished only by Michael Schumacher and Juan-Manuel Fangio) come off-track somewhat in the last two grands prix, with just two seventh-place finishes to his name. Though he acknowledges Ferrari's recent resurgence will make it significantly harder than before to claw those points back now, Alonso is confident it is not a task that is beyond him.

"It is tough," he told reporters at Silverstone when questioned about the challenge of defending his crown, "but that's nothing new. The Formula 1 World Championship is always extremely difficult to win.

"There are 17 races and you cannot afford to make any mistakes. I've made two unfortunately with seventh places in Canada and France, and luck or not, that doesn't really matter - two seventh places are not enough to be at the top of the points table.

"Hopefully I can win more races now in the second half of the season, and my main rivals will maybe have some bad races and I can take over the lead. If not it will be very difficult."

The 25-year-old wound up a lowly sixth at the end of the opening day's practice at the Northamptonshire circuit ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix, almost a full second adrift of Kimi Raikkonen's pace-setting Ferrari. The two scarlet machines, he is well aware, will take some beating come the qualifying hour and race.

"We knew after what we saw last week in Magny-Cours the Ferraris would be quick," the McLaren-Mercedes ace stressed, "and they have already shown they will be quick here all weekend as well. There are no surprises in that.

"There have been no big changes to the car since then, and we all tested here ten days ago so no one has any advantage. I think we will be ok though. We have to do a good job in qualifying and maybe fight with them for pole position.

"Friday was a very windy day, so everybody was suffering from consistency problems in the corners. Lap after lap the balance kept changing depending on how strong the wind was. What we have to do is do a better job than the other teams and prepare our car for these conditions."

When asked if he had any advice for team-mate Hamilton on dealing with the home pressure, meanwhile, Alonso underlined he was sure the young Brit would handle the situation with his usual calm maturity.

"[I've got] nothing special [to say]," he stated. "Everyone is different regarding fans and how you deal with it all. I think he will cope very well here."



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