Alonso: I'm not the favourite
Championship leader insists his Ferrari is slower than rival cars
By Mike Wise at Spa. Last Updated: 31/08/12 8:13am
Fernando Alonso might hold an impressive World Championship lead heading into what will be a hectic climax to the Formula 1 season but the Ferrari star has denied he is the title favourite.
The Spaniard currently holds a 40-point advantage over Mark Webber, having managed to increase his margin over the Red Bull driver at the Hungarian Grand Prix, despite Ferrari's F2012 clearly lacking the pace of its rivals in Budapest.
Speaking on Thursday ahead of this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, Alonso reckoned as much himself. However, in a season that has to date brought three wins and points in every race, the double World Champion thinks his lead is as much down to the inconsistency of rivals as it is his own ability to deliver.
"It didn't change anything, I think, in the summer. Obviously when you stop for four or five weeks and you see the points, you need to talk about Formula 1 for some days and you see the classification is a good advantage for us," Alonso said.
"But we've seen in the first part (of the season) that two or three bad races can make you lose everything.
"In terms of performance, I think in the contenders, or the guys who are at the front, we are clearly the slowest.
"So we have a point advantage, we have a performance disadvantage. I don't think that we are any favourite."
Although confident he can maintain his scoring streak in both Belgium and at next weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Alonso said the Scuderia must find performance ahead of the Championship run-in if he is to stay ahead of the pack.
"It's difficult to know because race-by-race there's a change in performance," he said. "The distance to pole position in the last race, which is the nearest comparison, we were eight tenths off pole position.
"This is a little bit too much and we need to improve that situation. We'll see how much this month because there are two strange circuits, let's say, in terms of characteristics of the cars; we run with very low downforce compared to the rest of the circuits.
"So anything can happen in these next two grands prix and we need to score some good points and really the next real reference we have is in Singapore or Japan.
"At that point, we must close this eight tenths. We need to be in position to fight with them."
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With the Belgian Grand Prix the first of nine races in what will doubtless prove 13 gruelling weeks, Alonso said the Championship run-in would be "challenging for everyone".
He explained: "For the teams, because there'll be races out of Europe, it's always a little bit more difficult to bring upgrades, to test them in the factory and all the preparations we normally have before a race.
"For drivers and team members also it will not be easy, because every month three races, seven races out of Europe, time zone changes etc so we need to be ready for that.
"We divide the championship in two: one to July, the second from September almost. We start from zero with full batteries and will stay in good shape until the end."