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Mon Sep 22 12:15:10 SAST 2014

Downcast Alonso says Ferrari are too slow

Gordon Howard, Sapa-AFP | 10 September, 2011 10:54
Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso of Spain drives his car in the pit lane during the second free practice session for the Italian F1 grand prix at the Monza circuit
Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso of Spain drives his car in the pit lane during the second free practice session for the Italian F1 grand prix at the Monza circuit September 9, 2011. The race will take place on Sunday
Image by: STEFANO RELLANDINI / REUTERS

Barely 48 hours after his team chief told the world that Ferrari are set to dominate again, Fernando Alonso on Friday conceded he was too slow to compete in this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

While Sebastian Vettel was reluctant to talk of his impending second coronation as champion, despite clocking the fastest time for Red Bull in Friday’s second free practice session, Alonso was accepting that second is his realistic target.

   Alonso was seventh and fifth in Friday’s two sessions, but did not register a performance that worried the leading drivers from the Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes teams on a disappointing day for  the tifosi.

   Alonso, who won last year’s race, said: “From a technical point of view, today was just a Friday like any other — we worked a lot on comparing different aerodynamic solutions as well as on evaluating different set-up choices on the car.

   “And now we must put everything together and try and make the right choices.

   “But, honestly, I think we lack a bit of performance compared to  the best, even if there are still the same unknowns relating to Fridays — especially those linked to fuel loads.

   “However, we have to be realistic — the car is more or less the  one we had in Spa, apart from specific updates to cope with the fact this track requires low aerodynamic down-force.

   “Sure, it would be nice to repeat last year’s performance, but we know that will be very difficult. You can’t create a miracle in two weeks, but we will do our utmost to give the fans something to cheer about.”  

 He added: “What is my motivation like for this final part of the  season? I am a very competitive person and I don’t like losing.

   “It’s true, this year that’s happened quite often, but there are  still targets that are within our grasp. For example, second place in the drivers’ championship — Webber is not that far ahead.”   

In the title race, with seven races remaining Vettel holds a 92-point lead over his team-mate Webber. Alonso is a further 10 points adrift.

   Ferrari’s technical director Pat Fry agreed that their main rivals looked strong, but warned that Mercedes may threaten on Sunday.

   He said: “From what we saw today, McLaren looks very strong, Red  Bull as usual is very competitive and Mercedes is also going well because of their speed.

   “We still need to improve a bit, having already made some progress from one session to the next. We will be trying our hardest to succeed.” 

  Speaking on Thursday, team boss Stefano Domenicali claimed that Ferrari were creating a world-beating team that will enjoy an invincible era at the top of Formula One.

   “Ferrari is a team that is condemned to win — in our history, we will never be allowed to smile if we take second place,” he said.

   “I may sound crazy, but I am convinced we are building the basis  now of an unbeatable structure.

   “Alonso believes in it and he has signed to 2016. He is in the middle of his career, and a winner like him wouldn’t throw it down the drain if he was not more than convinced about this project.”

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