Alonso 'used to this situation'

Championship leader expects a stronger race

By Mike Wise at Suzuka.   Last Updated: 07/10/12 12:54pm

  • Share:

Altough Red Bull dominated qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday, title leader Fernando Alonso reckons that Ferrari can once again pick up the pace during the race itself.

Defending World Champion Sebastian Vettel claimed his fourth straight pole position at Suzuka with a lap more than a second quicker than Alonso, who set the seventh fastest time.

The Spaniard gains a place as a result of Jenson Button's gearbox penalty but with Vettel now his nearest pursuer in the Drivers' Championship, Alonso's 29-point lead could well shrink on Sunday.

Speaking after qualifying, Alonso seemed resigned to Red Bull's advantage and drew parallels with the climax of the 2010 season, when he also led the World Championship prior to Vettel's late surge.

"What can we do? I think they are quick, they deserve to be on the first row and they are very competitive. So it's up to us to improve," he said.

"Obviously we'll have to be a little more fast but we are not, so we need to work, we need to improve.

"In 2010 they were maybe more than one second faster than us and we led the Championship until Abu Dhabi. Now they are eight tenths, one second faster than us and we are leading the Championship.

"Let's say we are used to this situation, being one second slower than our competitors in the fight for the Championship, so we will try to keep ahead."

Despite pointing out his habit of securing strong race results, Alonso still insisted that Ferrari had the potential to close the gap to Red Bull and McLaren on pure pace.

"I think in the next races we will improve the car for sure. I think we did not improve too much in the last two or three grands prix but we have some good plans for the next races. So I'm sure we will have a more competitive approach," he said.

"On the other hand, we are not very competitive on Sunday in terms of performance because they are quicker than us. But normally we improve our pace, the strategies are normally very good.

"The points are given on Sunday - and on Sunday we don't feel less strong than other teams."

Three pit-stops was the winning strategy last year, with Alonso expecting tyres to be placed under strain once again through the track's high-speed corners.

Pirelli have brought soft and hard tyres to Japan and Alonso said that even the latter - which are similar to last year's mediums used in the race - will be tested.

"I think it's a concern for everybody. Not just softs, also hards. It's a demanding circuit for tyres, we saw so last year with three stops in the race," he added.

"The tyres are more or less similar to last year, so it's a race to manage well. But at the same time we need to push - this is not a circuit where you can back off or think about reducing the pace. They will overtake you because there are so many good possibilities.

"We'll see on Sunday. It'll depend on temperatures - it'll depend on many things."

  • Share:


Japanese GP 2012

Martin interviews Jenson on the Suzuka grid

Challenging times ahead all round

Martin Brundle reflects on the significance of Sebastian Vettel's runaway win in Japan, questions Lewis Hamilton's rationale for trading a McLaren for Mercedes and calls for Romain Grosjean to be given time to mend his ways....

Kamui Kobayashi: Enjoyed big celebrations at Suzuka

Kamui Kobayashi Q&A

Kamui Kobayashi reflects on his maiden F1 podium at Suzuka and the amazing reaction from the home crowd.

Felipe Massa: Podium appears likely to cement his Ferrari future

Ferrari poised to confirm Massa stay

Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz believes that Ferrari could confirm as early as this week that Felipe Massa is staying at the team for next season.

Related Profiles

Most Popular


Who is Trevor Bayliss?

Who is Trevor Bayliss?

All you need to know about Trevor Bayliss - in negotiations with the ECB to be England's head coach.

Real's revolving door

Real's revolving door

As Real Madrid sack Carlo Ancelotti, we look at the last 11 who didn't last long at the Bernabeu...

Five things we learnt

Five things we learnt

Here's what we learnt from England's thrilling victory over New Zealand in the first Test at Lord's.