Alonso not ruling out any rival yet
But Spaniard not surprised to see Hamilton emerge into second in points
Last Updated: 10/09/12 9:21am
Fernando Alonso is braced for a "tough" fight for the championship over the final seven flyaway rounds - although is remaining cautious over who his main title rival is likely to be.
Despite starting out of position in 10th place on Sunday's grid at Monza the Spaniard raced through strongly to third place at the chequered flag, a result which was enough to increase his overall points lead by 13 points to 37 points with seven rounds to go.
Hamilton's comfortable victory, however, has established the McLaren driver as Alonso's closest challenger in the Drivers' standings and the Ferrari star admits he is not surprised to see his former team-mate closest to him on points.
But asked that, in wake of McLaren's third straight victory, if Hamilton was now his biggest threat, Alonso suggested it was still too early to say for sure.
"We'll see, we will see in the next couple of races and how the teams develop the parts," he said.
"At the moment McLaren has won the last three Grands Prix and they are in top form. I think from Jerez [when] they won in winter testing, [I was asked] who was the driver that I respect more and that was Lewis and we're still here, 11 or 12 races afterwards we are first and second in the championship.
"It will be tough until the end."
Having remained adamant throughout the season that Ferrari doesn't have the fastest car, Alonso relented in wake of the F2012's weekend-long competitiveness at Monza - with the Spaniard even claiming after qualifying that the mechanical failure that had struck the car in Q3 had cost him what would have been the 'easiest pole of the season'.
But with the Italian circuit requiring a unique low-downforce package, the 31-year-old hopes the same level of form transfers to Singapore at the end of next week.
"It's true that we need to improve the car, to improve the performance a little bit, not this weekend because to be honest we had the fastest car with McLaren, so we were very happy to fight all the free practice, qualifying and now in the race for the top positions," he said.
"Hopefully we can continue this in another track, because we know that Monza is a very unique layout, so if we continue like this we will be happy, and that's our aim."