Alonso eager for better season
READY FOR 2013: Fernando Alonso recalls his 2012 season, which he claims is his best. He hopes a better car next year will help him beat Sebastian Vettel.
Author: NICK REEVES
PARIS, France - Anybody within earshot of Fernando Alonso after the chaotic season-closing race at Interlagos could have been forgiven for believing it was the he, not Sebastian Vettel, who had just won the World Drivers' title.
The 2012 season will be remembered as one of the most thrilling yet and Red Bull's Vettel was crowned F1's youngest triple World champion by a mere three points.
MAPPING IT OUT
The 25-year-old German's sixth place to Ferrari driver Alonso's second there in Brazil made him only the third driver in history to win three consecutive titles; the others were Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio and Vettel's childhood idol Michael Schumacher, who finished seventh at Interlagos for Mercedes in his final race before re-retiring.
However, while plaudits rained down on Vettel, runner-up Alonso was mapping out ways to end his rival's supremacy in 2013 after what the 2005 and 2006 champion called "the best season of my life".
So it's not going to get any better, then...?
The 31-year-old reckoned his title bid was undermined by his Ferrari's lack of competitiveness against to the very reliable and very fast Red Bull and rough justice at Spa and Suzuka.
Alonso finished pointless in Belgium and Japan after being shunted out by Lotus duo Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen.
"We definitely did not lose the title in Brazil. That happened in Spa and Suzuka," argued Alonso. "In the end we lost the title by three points but I did the best season of my life and now I can only think of the year to come.
"It was a miracle to see, race after race, what we managed to achieve: in 2013 we will try to improve the car, try to start further up the grid to avoiding accidents. I also hope we have a bit more luck."
He shrugged off any anger he and Ferrari stirred up among Vettel's fans in Germany by lodging an ultimately fruitless appeal to the sport's governing body against Vettel's Brazilian win based on suggestions that Vettel may have carried out an illegal overtake.
"Frankly," Alonso said, "I'm not that interested in what the opinion is of me in Germany or elsewhere. What I know is that people who see me in the streets hug me and call me 'gladiator' or 'samurai'."
VETTEL TO BEAT
The unassuming Vettel will be hard to dislodge from the top of the F1 tree - the mantle of champion rests comfortably on his shoulders. After a different winner in each of the first seven races of 2012 he took the championship by the scruff of its neck in Asia, rattling off four straight wins.
His reputation for coolness under pressure was plain for all to see in Brazil when he overcame a near-disastrous first-lap collision to pick his way through the pack in treacherous rain-swept conditions for the all important sixth place.
His team mate Mark Webber said: "He's in a club on his own now; three in a row is going some."
Vettel, who has committed to Red Bull until 2014, reflected: "We stepped up our game in the second half of the season which allowed us to come back in this championship."
The season saw the end of the marriage between Lewis Hamilton and McLaren with the 2008 champion turning his back on the British team in favour of a fresh start at Ross Brawn's Mercedes, with McLaren handed to highly rated Mexican Sergio Perez.
A 20-race menu is again on offer for 2013 but the planned GP of America on the Jersey shore opposite New York City won't be on it.
And the 2013 grid has been reduced to 22 cars; the HRT team missed the deadline.