Fernando Alonso says he feels 'very calm' ahead of the Abu Dhabi GP
Spaniard also insists Ferrari upgrades are working well
By Mike Wise at Yas Marina Circuit. Last Updated: 04/11/12 12:18pm
Fernando Alonso said he was "very calm" about the prospect of a penalty for Sebastian Vettel after qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - a feeling that might have changed now his title rival is starting Sunday's race from the pitlane.
The Ferrari driver's World Championship challenge was re-ignited in dramatic circumstances late on Saturday night when Vettel, who leads Alonso by 13 points in the drivers' standings, was excluded from qualifying for a fuel infringement.
Alonso's own qualifying performance had been muted but the stewards' decision against Vettel and Red Bull may have given Ferrari some valuable breathing space as they seek to improve the pace of their own car.
"I'm very calm about this, the outcome - the decision they take. Obviously it might be a help for us. We have to see how many places he can lose, or if he loses any," said Alonso, about three hours before Vettel was penalised.
"I will have dinner now and maybe go to the hotel....and maybe not know anything until tomorrow morning. Because we know these decisions can take a long time."
Alonso set the seventh fastest time in qualifying but will start one place higher up the grid.
He was right about the stewards' deliberations: the decision was four-and-a-half hours in coming. Yet it was not the first time a prediction Alonso had made this week was proved correct.
Speaking on Thursday, he had pondered whether reliability problems for Red Bull might play into Ferrari's hands as the title race reaches its climax.
Alonso was referring to the KERS problems experienced by Mark Webber in India last weekend that allowed him to pass the Australian and claim second place behind Vettel.
It was the German's turn to suffer on Saturday, however, when first brake problems in final practice and then an issue with his car's fuel system placed Vettel on the backfoot.
Alonso had been on the defensive himself, insisting that the upgrades Ferrari have brought to this race are working, even though they were off the pace set by McLaren and Red Bull.
"The updates, they were fine, they were working very good. They'll give us more performance. Thank you to the team for giving us the updates at the very last moment and working flat out; also the mechanics for very long days and nights here preparing everything in our cars," he added.
"They worked fine but for sure the others do improvements as well and they make a step forward. So unfortunately we didn't improve much the situation of the positions in this qualifying. But everything was good."