Alonso: No fear on Suzuka Sunday

2012-10-06 21:02

SUZUKA, Japan - Ferrari's Formula 1 championship leader Fernando Alonso cursed his luck on Saturday after qualifying only sixth for the 2012 Japanese GP while closest title rival Sebastian Vettel put his Red Bull on pole.

The Spaniard's final quick lap was wrecked after Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus spun off in the final seconds of qualifying to bring out the yellow warning flags which required all drivers to slow and left Vettel the unchallenged pole holder.


"What can I say, other than get angry about being unlucky?" said Alonso. “The yellow flags came at the worst possible moment... until then my lap was great and there was every chance of setting the fourth-fastest time which would have put me fourth on the grid."
McLaren's Jenson Button, third-fastest in qualifying, had a five-place grid penalty over his head from the Singapore GP two weeks earlier.

Alonso is 20 points ahead of Vettel in the championship with six races remaining, which means he will still lead the championship whatever happens on Sunday. Despite that, the Ferrari man can remember only too painfully how a third championship slipped through his fingers in 2010 when Vettel came from behind to snatch the overall lead and title in the final race in Abu Dhabi.

Double champion Vettel and Red Bull are picking up pace ominously, winning the previous 2012 race in Singapore and dominating practice and qualifying at Suzuka with both their cars on the front row.

"We need to improve. In 2010 they were maybe more than one second faster than us and we were leading the championship until Abu Dhabi," warned Alonso. "Now they are eight-tenths, one second faster than us. We are leading the championship. Let's say we are used to this situation."

Alonso has been more consistent than Vettel and has won three races to the German's two but he was confident Ferrari would be able to fight back rather than just depend on reliability.

"I think in the next races we will improve the car considerably," he said. "We did not improve too much in the last two or three races but there are some good plans for the next."

Alonso, who went back to his Friday settings after being unconvinced by changes tried out in Saturday's final practice, also drew confidence from the fact that he has been more competitive on Sundays than in qualifying.

"Normally we improve our pace, the strategies normally are very good, the pit-stops and starts. The points are given on Sunday and on Sunday we don't feel less strong than other teams," he said.

"Maybe we lack a bit of performance on the single lap but on Sunday our team has no fear of anyone."