Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso agree there's a long way to run in title race
But World Champion holds lead of 36 points after Montreal triumph
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 10/06/13 2:48pm
Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel on the podium in Canada
Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel have insisted the World Championship is still wide open despite the reigning champion opening up a 36-points lead over his Ferrari rival with a devastating and dominant display in Montreal.
In an ominous statement of superiority to which the rest of the field had no suitable answers, Vettel led from start to finish at the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit on Sunday with a performance of supreme frontrunning to claim his first victory in Canada and extend his title advantage.
After finishing the race in second place ahead of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, Alonso is once again Vettel's closest rival in the standings, but his leapfrogging of Kimi Raikkonen in the championship battle was a small measure of consolation on what was otherwise a chastening weekend for the Ferrari team.
Qualifying remains the team's glaring weakness - Alonso's last pole position in the dry was in September 2010 - with the Spaniard's comparable race pace to that of Vettel in the middle stages of the grand prix blunted by his modest starting position of sixth.
"On Sunday, we normally pick up the pace a little bit about which we are happy because the points are gained on Sunday, but it's true that at some races, if you start too far behind, it's difficult to recover, but we will try to improve next time," a sombre Alonso reflected.
Nevertheless, the two-times title winner is adamant that his current points deficit to Vettel is still surmountable.
"In the past - I touched on this in Australia or Malaysia - in the last six or eight years, there were people recovering from more than 30 points on the old points, which is three races so it's 75 or 80 points," Alonso, who led Vettel by forty-two points at the summer break last year before eventually being usurped by the German, assured reporters.
Sitting alongside his Ferrari rival in the post-race press conference, a concurring Vettel was quick to echo Alonso's sentiments.
"As Fernando said, the championship is still long and obviously I was in a different position last year at this time and I was able to catch up quite a lot towards the end. I had very strong races," commented the World Champion.
"Fernando was a little bit unlucky here and there and we were able to beat him, so we were able to come back but this was ten races from where we are now so I think there are so many things that can happen at that stage of the championship, I'm happy to stand on the grid and focus on the race, trying to win, and the rest we will see later on if we are still in a strong position."
Nonetheless, such was the extent of Vettel's speed advantage, with every driver in the field lapped up to the fifth-placed Nico Rosberg, that the Red Bull driver must now be considered the overwhelming favourite to land a fourth consecutive championship. Whereas Red Bull had never previously prevailed in Canada, the next stop on F1's 2013 world tour is Silverstone, a circuit which is expected to suit the RB9.
Having struggled in the damp and greasy conditions of qualifying, Alonso is pining his hopes on new upgrades and the rare appearance of blue skies over Northamptonshire in two weeks' time.
"We know that the temperature is not helping us at the moment, but we cannot say anything because there are other people going very fast in those conditions, so it's up to us to improve," he commented. "We have some ideas and hopefully at Silverstone we can improve on that."
With Vettel a distant speck on the horizon, the highlight of Sunday's race was Alonso's wheel-to-wheel joust with Hamilton. Yet while full of praise for his former team-mate's on-track conduct, Alonso reflections were also laced with implicit criticism of Sergio Perez, the driver who has replaced Hamilton at McLaren and with whom both Alonso and Raikkonen collided in Monte Carlo.
"With Lewis we were really very close on the pace and there was some moments going out of turn eight to see who had the detection point and then in turn 10 the same thing, at the last chicane, so there was some action there," said Fernando. "But it was nice to have these battles, particularly this race with so talented drivers, so intelligent drivers, that, you know, you fight wheel-to-wheel and you feel safe. You feel you are racing and you are competing. It can go your way or it can go the other way, but this is real racing. So, very happy to see this back after Monaco. It's a little bit different."
Whether Alonso can turn the tide in his battle with Vettel remains to be seen, however.