Alonso not concerned by points gap to Vettel

2013 Spanish Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso says he is optimistic about his championship chances this year and isn’t concerned he is 30 points behind Sebastian Vettel after four races.

Alonso believes Ferrari are in a more competitive position than 12 months ago.

“Last year we were 1, 1.5 seconds behind the top cars and we won by the weather and by the luck the race of Malaysia,” he said. “This year we’ve finished two races without problems and we finished second in Australia and we won in China.”

“So it’s very different feeling and very different package that we have this year that brings us some optimism and some confidence that we can do a good championship.”

“We need to deliver and we need to do some consistent results now and some consistent points for the next Sundays. But we are more optimistic.”

He points out that other drivers have recovered larger points deficits at later stages in the season than the only he faces now: “It’s true that we are some points behind now but the championship is long and we saw many examples as we said many times last year.”

“I think the most recent was Sebastian’s recovery last year he was 43 points I think behind us after the summer break and arrived leading to Austin in Texas. In five or six races you can recover 45, 50 points if you get some consistent results.”

“Same with us, 2006 I was 33 points in front of Michael which means 75 or 80 points with the current points system. And he was leading the championship in Suzuka, two races to the end. Until we are 75 or 80 points behind we should be optimistic until that point.”

He agreed that this is the first time since joining Ferrari that he has arrived at his home race with a car capable of competing for victory: “But that doesn’t mean that you will fight for top places. If you don’t do everything right and you don’t put together a good weekend.”

Alonso added the team did not need to prioritise qualifying performance at this race: “I think this year we see how important the race is, the race pace.”

“The tyres this year are a key factor, more than previous. Obviously it’s good to start at the front and if you start at the first row you know that your chances are high. The podium you already can touch with your hands if you start at the front row. I think we need to have a very normal weekend like we did in the first four races and to find the right balance between qualifying and the race.”

“The first really important qualifying will arrive in two weeks’ time in Monaco where we know that qualifying is extremely important. Here is still more or less normal circuit and we need to find a compromise.”

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Keith Collantine
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31 comments on “Alonso not concerned by points gap to Vettel”

  1. I agree with FA. There’s tons of racing to go and Ferrari are in a very competitive position, and many things can and will happen between now and the final race. They need only be positive about their prospects this year, after only 4 races.

  2. jimscreechy (@)
    9th May 2013, 15:27

    He certainly has a great chance of be world champion again this year, and it would be ncie to see him win his home race. Actually I think 4 of the 5 WDC’s on the grid have clearly demonstrted their capability and have realistic chances of winning he title. I have to admit it is nice to see a close group of competitve cars and drivers at the front of the grid.

    1. Traverse (@)
      9th May 2013, 16:13

      I’m guessing Button didn’t make your top 5…

      1. Traverse (@)
        9th May 2013, 16:14

        …I mean top 4 :P

      2. jimscreechy (@)
        9th May 2013, 16:36

        Well, he doesn’t really have the prowess of the other 4 and though he does have his moments when he won his WDC he more ‘lucked’ into a car with warp drive when the others only had impulse engines.

  3. I hope so. 2010 showed that Alonso can still come back strong from huge point gap deficiency in the 2nd or 3rd best car. Fernando really needs to win his 3rd championship, he has waited too long for it.

    1. Be that as it may I don’t think any of the title contenders have as good a finish as Vettel. He’s always been mighty in the Asian part of the championship and I personally feel that if anyone wants to beat him they’ll need a points advantage going into the last races otherwise it might be too much to ask form anyone. Of course it also depends on RBR as they seem to be able to find more performance from the car in the second part of the season than other teams, but anything could happen on development front so who knows. Still, if Vettel is not substantially behind anyone by the time we get to Singapore I know where I’ll put my money.

    2. The top three team in 2010 were very close in performance. Alonso and Webber blew their chances. Vettel grabbed his chance with both hands. Never wilted under pressure, while Alonso and Webber both did.

      1. The top three team in 2010 were very close in performance.

        I wouldn’t say very close. Webber finished ahead of Hamilton in that championship, and no one would actually think that Webber is a better driver than Hamilton.

        1. Webber drove well that year, especially during the middle.

          You need to rewatch every race if you don’t think the top three teams were evenly matched throughout the year.

  4. I honestly think the team’s errors will come back to bite him: Red Bull have been bulletproof strategically and operationally so far this season and I don’t see that changing. So unless another reliability issue surfaces on the RB9 like the RB8’s alternator failures (which I don’t think is particularly likely since it’s just an evolution of the fairly reliable RB8 with new alternators!) he really has to claw back the deficit with superior results or hope that Vettel encounters misfortunes akin to his with the Lotus’ last year.

    Vettel though has finished 3rd, 1st, 4th and 1st so far – if that continues Alonso is going to have a very hard time of clawing back the deficit I think. I’ll say it again: this is the same man who has lost three world championships by a margin of less than 5 points. I think these entirely preventable errors (failing to pit in Malaysia and re-opening the DRS in Bahrain) are going to haunt him.

    1. Very valid points, but I’ll make a few of my own. I don’t think Red Bull has been bulletproof operationally, looking at the team order issue they had and the strife it caused on the team. So I take that as a chink in the armour and something that may raise it’s ugly head again this season. Or put slightly differently…if they are now hypersensitive to showing the public that in fact there is legitimate racing between SV and MW, (no team orders because we know how team orders went for them earlier in the season with SV ignoring them anyway), and we know Ferrari has a one-rooster rule and it’s all for FA, then the team order fiasco RB had could play into FA’s hand.

      And I think that the way FA is looking at it, if they could start off last year with such a problematic car and still come within a hair of the WDC, then all things being equal, and yes, counting on not every race going perfectly for Red Bull, which we know will likely be the case, then there’s no reason he shouldn’t be optimistic at this stage. Especially since 3 times he has come within 5 points or less of the WDC and now he’s quite confident in the car and probably quite confident that they can evolve it and improve it.

      1. @robbie a very valid point with the team orders: that slipped by my mind! They just really need to hope then that Vettel doesn’t require any team orders at key points in the championship (cause lets be honest, Webber doesn’t really have a chance at winning it) and if they do come wheel-to-wheel they’ll be as fair to each other as they have been ever since Turkey 2010 and give each other breathing space.

        counting on not every race going perfectly for Red Bull, which we know will likely be the case

        Very much so but I can’t see many areas in which the RB9 is weak from a reliability perspective bearing in mind it’s an evolution of the RB8 and Red Bull have been pretty solid in recent years with knowing when to pull a driver in. Besides Webber’s wheel issue in China also, they’ve been pretty bulletproof (and blindingly fast) in the pit stops.

        So really, it’s only misfortunes in being involved in collisions with others that I can see affecting Vettel or the odd gearbox/engine failure causing grid demotions. That’s not something to rely on I wouldn’t say.

        Absolutely though there is no reason he should believe he can’t win it as if Vettel is anything to go by comebacks are entirely plausible: in 2010 he was 25 point behind the leader (Alonso, ironically) with two rounds to go and in 2012 he was 42 points down with 9 rounds to go (his biggest deficit) and 39 points down with 7 rounds to go (again, on Alonso).

        If the car stays as competitive as it is and Vettel hits trouble, you can be sure Alonso will be there to pounce on it as Vettel was last year on Alonso.

        1. For sure SV should remain a force to be reckoned with this season, but I’m not so sure MW won’t be a thorn in his side. I can see some pretty harsh wheel to wheel interaction between the two RB’s if MW has revenge in his mind over SV ignoring that team order which robbed MW of points and probably at the same time enforced for MW that it’s every man for himself then. SV’s short term gain might have awoken something in MW that might bite SV in the butt later on, even if MW isn’t looking to be in the WDC fight as things progress. Be fascinating to see how it unfolds.

          Bottom line for me though is that I’d like to think FA is confident that he can race himself to the WDC, without depending on Red Bull and/or SV having issues. And that’s his safest bet. Assume SV and Red Bull are going to be rock solid and strive to be that one notch better. Ultimately all FA can control is what’s in his own camp. And he’s obviously confident in what he’s got going for him.

          1. But one has to ask first, how often have MW and SV actually been wheel-to-wheel, and how often has MW had to help Vettel? Making the safe assumption Webber won’t go as far as to mess up his own race (and income (points)), there have been few instances since 2011 where Webber has been any possible help or threat to Vettel.

          2. @mnmracer precisely: I can’t see many occasions arising where Webber would be chasing Vettel from behind (being faster), which is the only occasion where Vettel may need team orders in his favour as far as I can see it. If he’s coming up behind Webber I think he could get the job done as per Malaysia, as Webber will still give him the space – not only for his own benefit, but for the team’s benefit (not Vettel’s).

          3. @Vettel1

            I think you seriously hope that the errors would come back to haunt FA’s title bid… :P

            The season is very long and there are lots of races to go and anything can happen.. I dont think anybody can predict that Redbull will be bulletproof strategically going forward… Anyway IMO they were nt bulletproof till now… I thought in China they made a mistake by not letting Vettel set a lap on the soft tyres…

          4. @mnmracer Very true, but I just wonder if SV’s ignoring of the team order has changed MW’s approach/mindset/determination. Odds are you are right that MW won’t be needing to help SV, but if in fact it does happen, I think it is safe to say that MW would rather park his car than help SV this year. Maybe he wouldn’t go so far as to mess up his own race, but if the scenario here presumes that MW isn’t fighting for the WDC but SV is, MW may not care about his own race if the alternative is to help the guy who robbed him earlier in the season. Sorry SV…you made decisions all on your own in spite of team orders…now I’m making my own decision. You wanted it to be every man for himself. So be it.

            So I fully agree that there have been few instances since 2011 where MW has been any possible help or threat to SV. But I think that was then and this is now and the atmosphere may have changed such that this year carries better odds that MW WILL be a threat to SV and WILL NOT help.

          5. @puneethvb I must admit I do, yes! :P

    2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      10th May 2013, 9:05

      @vettel1 – Obviously, Max, I’m inclined to disagree with you. There are another 15 races coming up, 15 races of motorsport chaos. Assuming this is another Vettel vs Alonso duel again, Red Bull can’t dodge that entirely. In terms of reliability, the issues we saw last year could easily arise again, and operationally and strategically I don’t think their the force that you make them seem. Aside from the car itself, Ferrari had a perfect-ish year last year, making very few strategic errors and no operational errors as far as I can remember…unlike McLaren. I would say that Red Bull are perhaps the most inconvenienced of the top teams this year, with open war raging between its teammates and a car that seems inherently hard on its tyres, although it half seems that most people have already forgotten Red Bull’s tyre woes of the first two races. So whilst Ferrari and Lotus garages are saving tyres and waltzing around to Mozart in a harmonious fashion, the Red Bull garage smells of burning rubber and is hosting an arm-wrestle between Vettel and Webber over team status. And if Vettel could claw back a 43 point deficit in just 5 races, Alonso can certainly regain 30 points in 15 races, I mean, let’s remember who we’re talking about here. And anyway, all of this is taking the assumption that is a two man duel, but what a the Kimster? What about the man I believe to be the best driver in the race, driving the best race car and the man I’ve tipped for victory around the front-limited Barcelona track? He is but a measly 10 points behind Vettel, and is hosting probably the best driving style of the grid for the 2013 Pirellis. To those who have said that the first 4 races haven’t taught us much, I say “folly”, because we now know that 2013 is a three man duel.

      1. I think I disagree with you.
        What I see is that Ferrari are back in 2010: they have pretty good car and heap of bad decisions. I can’t see them winning with that package. Fernando will never win a WDC again because he is making too many mistakes at crucial points of a year. Besides, he always drives with a feeling “that guy has a better car/package”. Psychologically he will fade out soon (I was amazed when I saw Fernando was nervous at the start in Australia).
        And what I see from Red Bull garage: confident Vettel who knows “Newey will make everything fast”. Vettel can easily make his own decision (Malaysia-13), and team will support him. I don’t see any team better in the field right now. (Webber isn’t a threat for Vettel not because he is worse racer, but because team will help Vettel at any stage of a year)

        1. Hmmm…nobody here seems to be putting much weight behind MW having any affect on things, and yet I’m still fascinated to see if MW has a little (or maybe even a lot) different attitude now, in that, forget the team stuff, SV is now my enemy, not my teammate…I’m going to rob points from him when and wherever I can. I’ve been shown that it’s every man for himself on the team. And that might help FA.

          One argument I could make against what I just said is that in fact the team order was to favour MW, so he can’t be mad at the team, just SV for ignoring the order. So I do wonder, will he still be a team guy in spite of what must be a burning desire to outdo SV this year. But really…the team has touted racing between their drivers, even if many people think the team revolves around SV, so in a way why shouldn’t MW think about himself primarily at this point in his career at Red Bull. SV does. Come on Mark, step it up and show SV you’re not going to be treated like a lap dog any more.

  5. Sort of reminds me of last year when Vettel something along the lines of he wasn’t to worried about the gap to Alonso in the championship. And we all know how that ended.

    Maybe this season we will see the reverse occur…

    1. @davef1 the general situation does yes, but the circumstances of the events don’t. Vettel wasn’t at fault for his collision with Katthikeyan in Malaysia, Alonso was with Vettel. His retirement in Malayasia was preventable, Vettel’s in Valencia and Italy wasn’t. The failure to notify Alonso not to use DRS was also a preventable but costly mistake.

      The main area where it differs as I see it though is that Vettel fell behind Alonso really because of factors out with Red Bull’s control, Alonso has fallen behind Vettel because of operational errors and a driving error despite having a pretty much equal (arguably better on balance) car.

      1. @Vettel1
        yes agreed … the mistakes were preventable and Ferrari and alonso have lost a good chunk of points… and Vettel’s retirements last year were unavoidable(though he made a mistake in Italy )… But at the end of the day Vettel was behind on points last year at that stage and Alonso is behind now… If Ferrari has a better package(as you suggested) I dont see any reason why Alonso cant overturn this lead considering we still have 15 races to go…

    2. @davef1

      Seeing as how the Ferrari is now the best overall package that could very well be the case.
      Alonso doesn’t even need Vettel to hit trouble. 3 victories will cut down Alonso’s points deficit significantly no matter what Vettel does.

      1. no matter what Vettel does.

        What if Vettel denies him those victories?

  6. Ferrari were always good with tires but their overall package is even better this year. No matter what kind of mistakes Alonso and Ferrari have done so far or will, I wouldn’t bet my money on anyone else other than Alonso for the win. He really is in sublime form.

  7. it’s good to start at the front and if you start at the first row you know that your chances are high. The podium you already can touch with your hands if you start at the front row

    Unless you are Merc….

  8. MB (@muralibhats)
    10th May 2013, 7:36

    Unless and until its the last couple of races, Alonso would never say “I am concerned by points gap to Vettel”. Even if he genuinly is!

  9. Alonso has the best package this year, so it’s put up or shut up for Alonso.

    The problem for Alonso is he has never responded well to pressure or expectation, whereas Vettel thrives. I think this is the reason for Alonso series of mistakes in qualifying and races.

    Vettel has some how taken it to an even higher level this year. He’s as hungry, as ruthless and as talented as Schumacher in his prime.

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