Alonso aiming for UK F1 repeat
BEST OF RIVALS: Lewis Hamilton (left) and Fernando Alonso after a media conference ahead of the 2012 British F1 GP. Image: AFP
Author: TIM COLLINGS
SILVERSTONE, England – Fernando Alonso, fresh from climbing to the top of the Drivers' standings on his home soil two weeks earlier, will seek to establish himself as a clear leader by repeating his 2011 victory in Sunday's British F1 GP.
The 30-year-old Spaniard, bidding to become the youngest triple champion in F1 history, took advantage of others' failings in the European GP in Valencia but this time hopes he can steer his Ferrari to a decisive victory.
WARY OF PREDICTIONS
If he does, he will be the first man in 2012 to win three races, leaving six others stuck on one win each as the closest opening period of any F1 season conjures up more unexpected and unpredictable racing.
Alonso has been wary of making predictions after a factory visit by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and a warning against any perceived complacency.
Team mate Felipe Massa said he believed, like many, that Sunday’s Silverstone race could reveal which team, if any, is in the best shape to mount a serious title bid in the high European season and the return leg of the 20-race calendar.
"It's difficult to have a clear picture of how competitive we should be," Massa said. "Especially this year, we have seen results in the races that we could never have expected. Silverstone is a very different track to the last few so we need to be ready for everything and arrive as well prepared as possible.
"Who knows, maybe Silverstone can be even better than expected for us, but if you look at Valencia, where we had 13 cars within three-tenths (of a second) in Q2, it shows you really cannot make predictions this season.
"However, we believe our car is not too bad in the high-speed corners, so I feel we should discover a good F2012 when we start practice on Friday."
CLEAR STATEMENT NEEDED
In a week of tragedy that saw Spanish Marussia test driver Maria De Villota crash into a truck and lose her right eye, F1 will also be using the Silverstone weekend as an opportunity to assess many major issues for the future - including drivers’ safety, circuit security and, most of all, proposals to keep costs under control.
McLaren team chief Martin Whitmarsh told a fans' forum this week that he believed the time had come for the ruling body, the International Motoring Federation, to make a clear statement of intent.
"All the teams have signed a legally binding agreement but it is difficult to enforce it between ourselves - other than morally," he explained.
"Maybe I am much too naive to be in F1 because I like to believe people are telling me the truth so I don't get excited about it but the question now is how do we raise the level of confidence in its policing?"
While Whitmarsh looks at the bigger picture he relies on sporting director Sam Michael to ensure that McLaren can deliver not only a fast car but also reliable strategy and pit stops for their two British title contenders and former champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.
Hamilton, who has suffered from a series of pits-lane errors through 2012, endured one in Valencia that lasted more than 14 seconds, but Michael this week asserted that their problems were over.
"We identified why that failed and the design has been modified," he said. "On Monday this week we completed 800 pit stops on the jacking systems with no faults at all."
Michael suggested rival Red Bull was not about to dominate the next few races, as many observers fear after seeing Sebastian Vettel pull away in Valencia before being forced to retire.
"Valencia hasn't been a track at which we have traditionally been very good but Silverstone definitely fits more in line with McLaren’s strengths."
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