Tag Archives: Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso: “It’s not been the perfect start…”

Fernando Alonso says that Ferrari can still fight for the World Championship this year, despite the impressive form shown by rivals in Australia.

In recent years Alonso has had to fight with what was often the third or fourth best car in the field, but this time he sees the possibility to catch up.

“I think that we have more potential that what we saw in Australia, first of all,” he said in Malaysia today. “I think we need to put everything in place and have a better weekend. We also understand that we need to improve, especially with the Mercedes cars, they seem very strong. But we have the potential. I think the team has the facilities, the team has the talent, to do a very good job.

“We are strong and we should be strong. We will do better, I’m pretty sure. We know that it has not been a perfect start, it seems like a repetition of the past couple of years, but these are different rules, a different rate of developing this year, and the hope is still perfectly there.”

Reminded that in 2012 he came to Malaysia and won with an uncompetitive car Alonso said that a repeat was unlikely – but he hasn’t given up hope.

“If we approach this weekend thinking that we will win the race like we did in 2012, it’s definitely optimistic. Why not? In F1 anything can happen. But I think what we saw in 2012, we see one time in life.

“We need to see how the next races go, in terms of our own performance, and see how we can develop quickly the car and be in a little bit better shape in Australia. As we said at the end of the race we were not happy with the performance we showed, and that we need to I improve as soon as possible. We have to work hard and race hard in the next couple of Grands Prix, and deliver some results.”

Meanwhile Alonso didn’t want to join in with any criticism of the new rules – and made some interesting observations about how his words might be interpreted.

“This is a very uncomfortable matter to speak about. If I say I like this F1, it will be criticised because this is not any more F1 for most of the fans. If I say that I don’t like this F1, fans will criticise [me] and say I only liked it when I win before.

“It’s the same with the performance. If you say that you are more or less happy with the fourth in Australia because you finished the race, you are not motivated any more and you’re not hungry for success. If you say that you want to win and we don’t have the performance, then you are criticising the team. So it’s very difficult when you have the microphone to talk about anything in this difficult contest.

“We need to give it a little bit more time. I understand the disappointment of the Australian race from the fans point of view, because the race was probably not as we thought. There was a lot of talk before the race about how exciting will be this new F1, how many cars will finish, maybe zero, if there finish zero cars how they will do it, the safety car will go out, all these sorts of things were talked about before the race.

“When 15 cars finished and there were not many problems and not many overtakings, people were maybe not expecting that. We need to give a little bit more time. Maybe here we’ll have a fantastic race, a fantastic show. The weather can play an important part here and create a very good scenario for the race, so we’ll see.”

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Stefano Domenicali: “The interest of the team always comes before all else…”

Stefano Domenicali says that Ferrari’s interest have priority as the Italian outfit tries to balance the ambitions of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.

“It was a rational choice, based on the need to have an expert driver pairing,” said Domenicali. “With the one aim of it doing well for Ferrari. I hope the track will show that it was the right choice. How will we manage them? Decisions are always carefully considered, but they always have the same aim, which is that the sporting decisions are taken to reach the team’s goals, as the interest of the team always comes before all else. Decisions we have taken in the past have always been reached in this spirit.”

Domenicali says that Raikkonen has changed, and suggests that the Finn knows he has to raise his game in order to take on Alonso.

“I have found a more mature Kimi, more closely knit to the team. He comes to Maranello almost every week to work with the engineers. He knows his worth and he knows what team he has returned to and what challenges he will face, having a world champion like Alonso alongside him for whom he has respect and he will have to adapt to working with him.

“Fernando is extremely intelligent and has managed to stay ahead in whatever car he has driven. He has an ability to interpret the race and to read it in an amazing way and I think he will make the most of the new regulations, which will require some stages of the race to be managed in a different way. We feel close to him partly because it was such a long time ago that we decided to invest in him.”


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Fernando Alonso: “I’m World Champion of the rest…”

It was a case of mixed fortunes for Fernando Alonso in Austin as he secured second place in the drivers’ championship but saw Ferrari lose ground to Mercedes in the battle for second in the constructors’ version.

Alonso had a typically feisty race in Austin, eventually finishing fifth.

“The main goal of the weekend was to beat Mercedes, to fight for the constructors’ championship,” said Alonso. It was not a good weekend from that aspect, we lost some points again. Lotus is getting closer, and for whatever reason we are losing a little bit of pace in the last Grands Prix. We need to find something for Brazil, because I think it’s going to be a tough weekend again.

“Entering Q3 is difficult, entering the points is difficult, so we need to improve for the next race. But in a way I secured second place in the drivers’ World Championship today, which I think with the actual car we have is World Champion of the rest.”

Alonso just managed to hold off Nico Hulkenberg in the closing laps.

“It was difficult I think, a very difficult race for us. From the start we knew that we could lose one position with Perez, starting on the wrong side of the grid. Unfortunately we lost it. I wasn’t able to run so close in the first stint, because I was damaging the tyres, I stepped back a little bit and then I recovered a little bit of pace around the pit stop time.

“With the hard tyre we were maybe a little bit more competitive, we were able to attack Perez, we were able to attack Hulkenberg. But I finished the tyres in the last two or three laps, so Nico was coming back, attacking again. I was lucky, one more lap and I would lose the position with Nico.

“When you are in free air you can manage the tyres a little bit, and control the wear of the tyres and control the pace, but when you are in traffic you never know how much you need to push. You would like to overtake, but you stress more the tyres, and it was a difficult race.”


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Fernando Alonso: “The nights were very difficult…”

Fernando Alonso says he suffered with headaches in the days after his off-track incident in Abu Dhabi, but he no longer has a problem.

Alonso went to hospital for a check-up before being allowed to fly home. Since then he has been allowed by the team to avoid media activities in order to rest.

“After Abu Dhabi I was fine, especially three or four hours after the race I was fine,” he explained when asked about it by this writer. “Then I finally passed the anti-doping, because I waited four hours to pass it. They said we need to check you because we had the alarm of the chassis, and when they did a normal control they saw some problem maybe, some lack of [sensitivity] in my left arm and my left leg, and because of that they were a little bit worried and they put in this thing and I went to the hospital for the MRI or I don’t know what we did.

“And after that all week I had a big headache, because the nerve I think is compressed, and I didn’t have enough blood pressure in the head. I was often in a lot of headache, and the nights were very difficult. Slowly the inflammation was coming normal, and I recovered the feelings.”

Alonso said he wasn’t having any issues in the car this weekend.

“No, not a problem. A little bit of pain yesterday night, and this morning when I woke up, but driving with all the adrenaline and warm-up is good, so maybe tonight again still some pain. But in the race when you are in the car, you forget everything.”

Meanwhile he was happy to qualify as high as sixth today after what looked like being a tricky weekend for Ferrari.

“I think the car was working better in qualifying. We keep struggling in the first sessions in the early morning with the cold track, we are not making the tyre work mainly, we’re struggling to put temperature in the tyre. In the afternoons yesterday and today the things improved a little bit.

“It was very windy this afternoon, and it was time also to interpret a little bit also the wind direction and drive differently corner-by-corner depending on the wind intensity. It was a tricky qualifying and maybe we had a good one, but obviously this doesn’t mask the problem of the weekend, which has been not enough pace.”

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Fernando Alonso: “The race was uphill from that moment…”

Fernando Alonso’s hopes of a decent result in the Indian GP were over at the first corner after he hit the rear of Mark Webber – ironically the other frontrunning driver who took a gamble on qualifying on the medium tyre.

Alonso also hit Jenson Button on the first lap and a second lap stop for a new nose ruined his strategy and left him struggling to catch up. He eventually finished 11th.

“Obviously not a clear start,” said the Spaniard. “I was a bit unlucky because I think Mark also was having a contact with someone, and the third part was me in that equation. And with Button as well in corner four, it was a little bit of a mixed start, and the race was uphill from that moment. We were last with one stop more compared to the others already done. So a difficult race, and not enough pace.”

Matters were not helped by the car not behaving well after the contact: “It was damaged, I think the front toe or something, because the steering wheel was very heavy to the right corners, and very light to the left, so there was something going on there. It was not only that problem. The overall weekend was not good enough, and in Abu Dhabi we need to improve if we want to pass Mercedes in the constructors’ championship.”

Meanwhile Alonso had some nice words to say about Sebastian Vettel.

“Very, very good, I congratulate him. They’ve been very strong, very dominant, especially in the second part of the season, so they deserve to be be champions, so congratulations. Obviously we need to start thinking for next year and hopefully try to make things a little bit more difficult for him.”

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Fernando Alonso: “I think it’s a matter of time…

Fernando Alonso kept the 2013 World Championship battle alive by finishing fourth in Japan, although the Spanish driver admitted afterwards that he has no chance to beat Sebastian Vettel.

Alonso said that he was surprised to finish as high as he did at Suzuka.

“Yeah, a little bit because obviously we had some strong people in front of us, and we also had some threat from behind, like Kimi that was starting ninth,” he said. “But the race went good. From the start we recovered some positions, and then we’ve been a little bit lucky with some Mercedes problems, both having to go back. I think it was a good race in terms if points for the constructors’ championship. In terms of pace we didn’t have the pace to be on the podium, but after those three we’ve been very competitive in the race.”

“Even if Vettel doesn’t finish all the races I need to win nearly all, so I think it’s a matter of time. But it’s true that we have different goals now in the constructors’ championship. Today with the problems for Mercedes we are in a good position or in a better position.”

Alonso also went to the top of the all-time F1 points table, although he acknowledged that the change to 25 for a win had given him a hand.

“Today they told me I have the record of points in history. It’s a happy day. Leading the score in a sport like F1 is something great. I know that the points system changed some years ago but when someone will overtake me in the points no one will remember the points system, so let’s try to enjoy now the moment, and have a little celebration tonight!”

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Felipe Massa: “We have nothing to lose…”

Felipe Massa admits that having his final race for Ferrari in his home country in Brazil next month will make for an emotional weekend.

He also says he has nothing to lose as he tries to finish his stint with the team with a victory.

“I think the Brazilian GP is always very emotional,” he said when asked by this writer if he’d thought about Interlagos yet. “And especially when you see that you are there and in your last race for Ferrari, after such a long story. For sure it will be emotional, and I hope I can have a great race there, a great result, because the result makes things even more emotional. I hope we can have a fantastic last race – not just the last race but all these races, and especially the last race for Ferrari, for my history in Ferrari, and in Brazil.

“I’ll keep having an aggressive approach. We have nothing to lose, to be honest. So I’ll try the best I can. I spun not to hit Rosberg [in Korea], so it happens. Sometimes you need to risk a little bit, but I mean the drive there in the last race was good, the pace was good, unfortunately this cost me some points at the end of the race.

“We can never give up, and I will try the best definitely to finish with at least one more victory with Ferrari, it will be fantastic. I will try everything I can. And I hope he helps me as well, Fernando!”

Massa also stressed that his best calling card for next season was his experience, rather than a good result in the last few races of 2013.

“I think the experience is a lot more important than anything. Definitely the result is always good to have, whatever circumstance. People always remember the last race than the ones before. But I think everybody knows what I can bring to a team, everybody knows how important I can be to a team as well. We start from zero, new rules, so I think I have a lot to give to a team, and this makes more sense than just one result.”


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Lewis Hamilton: “We should be fighting with the World Champions at the front…”

Lewis Hamilton says that both he and Fernando Alonso are too good to be fighting over fifth place at the end of a Grand Prix.

Hamilton just held off his former McLaren team mate in Korea, but was unable to do anything about Nico Hulkenberg up ahead.

“It’s strange, you know,” he said. “Me and Fernando in fifth and sixth at the end, and having our own little race, we are of a higher calibre than that, we should be further ahead, and fighting with the World Champions at the front, and with Sebastian. I guess that just shows where the sport is today.”

Hamilton was clear frustrated with the way his race unfolded.

“It wasn’t that exciting for me. Going backwards and defending for a position is not so much fun, and when I was behind Grosjean at the start, that was it, there was no way to get past him. Those guys up ahead of us just had too much traction today, that’s really where I was losing out to everyone.

“The car was feeling pretty good, I was quick. If I was in the lead for example, I think I would have been able to stay there, apart from the graining phase that I went through. We were just not that quick on the straight, and things just didn’t go our way today.”


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Alonso/Raikkonen combo could work well, says Prost

Alain Prost sees no reason why the Fernando Alonso/Kimi Raikkonen combination won’t work for Ferrari next year.

Prost was involved in two of the most contentious team line-ups in history, with Ayrton Senna at McLaren and Nigel Mansell at Ferrari, but he says that having two star drivers can help a team.

“Only next year will tell us, because that can work very well, there’s no question,” he said in Singapore. “It has worked well in the past. Everybody thinks about Ayrton and myself, but it has also worked well, it has worked well also for the team, because we really put the team on the top. Obviously if you have a problem the management has to make it work. So it’s going to be more difficult, but it can work. I don’t know if it’s the right choice – we are going to see next year.”

He conceded that the fact that the drivers have such contrasting approaches could help: “It should be easier for sure, because Kimi has a different character.”

Meanwhile Prost agreed that modern drivers have different personalties compared to his day.

“They have changed, but it’s normal. Society has changed, and the way they start… Look at Sebastian, he’s going to be maybe four times World Champion this year, 26 years old. I won my first race at 26, so you cannot compare, it’s a different generation.

“They never lived with accidents, the risk, so it’s also a different mentality. The way they work now with the cars and teams, it is obviously very different, it’s much more electronic, it’s much more organised, that’s why you can’t compare. But the ability, the skill, the talent, is still there. And we have a good generation of drivers.”

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