Defiant Fernando Alonso says Ferrari have no reason to change approach in title fight
Vettel has closed to within four points of Spaniard's World Championship lead; No fresh upgrades on F2012 this weekend
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 11/10/12 7:30pm
After eight topsy-turvy months, the season has now essentially boiled down to a five-race, head-to-head fight between Alonso and Vettel as the pair strive to become the youngest three-times champion in the sport's history.
While Vettel has propelled himself close to the summit with back-to-back victories at Singapore and Japan, Alonso's title tilt has been built on metronome-like consistency, with the Spaniard only failing to register points-scoring finishes this season at Spa and Suzuka following collisions with Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen respectively.
Yet with Vettel rapidly closing in on Alonso's position at the top of the standings in a car which has seemingly been upgraded into the fastest on the grid, questions are inevitably being asked about whether Ferrari need to take a more adventurous approach as they enter the final stretch of the campaign.
"We've been attacking in all races, fighting for the maximum we can [achieve]," Alonso responded on Thursday. "We will not change now. We cannot overdrive or over-do what is available for us. We've lost a lot of points in the last four races but these were unlucky situations and things go up and down.
"We've been pushing from the first test of the winter so nothing has changed for the last five races. We need to keep doing the things we've been doing so far - it has been nearly a perfect championship for us with good starts, good strategies, and good approaches to racing. Everything we have had in our hands on a Sunday we have maximised for points. We don't need to change too many things."
Yet the feeling persists that, although Alonso remains the championship leader, the title is slowly slipping out of the Spaniard's grasp and that the development gains Red Bull have made in recent weeks - most notably, the successful introduction of a Double DRS system that went undetected on its debut at Singapore - has proved to be a pivotal game changer.
'What is very clear is that the obliteration of Alonso's comfortable points cushion from the combination of his first corner accident and Vettel's win means Ferrari now desperately needs a more productive development programme,' wrote Sky Sports F1's Mark Hughes on Tuesday. "A week ago it was in a position to cruise and collect its way to the title in a car that was adequately competitive. Now it isn't."
Perhaps ominously then, Alonso has confirmed that his F2012 will be without any new upgrades this weekend when it takes to a circuit which is expected to favour Vettel's Red Bull.
"It's just four days since Suzuka so there are not many updates," acknowledged Alonso in Thursday's press conference. "We will just try to set up the car the best we can for this race. I remain confident we will be competitive because we've been more or less competitive in the last eight to ten races and I don't think that will be any different here."
By contrast, Vettel has no reason to consider changing a car which has been transformed into a winning package over the last month.
"We're coming in on a high and will be trying to use the momentum to have another very strong race," said the reigning World Champion. "This circuit should be quite good for us."
And that, of course, is yet more bad news for Alonso.