Spaniard Fernando Alonso insists that his Ferrari team have ironed out the issues that impeded them in Belgium two weeks ago, and is expecting a strong performance at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
The 29-year-old double champion, currently 41 points adrift of championship leader Briton Lewis Hamilton of McLaren, had a nightmare weekend in Belgium, qualifying just 10th and failing to finish the race after a series of disasters.
But he is confident that his team have improved the straight-line performance of his car and is hoping to finish on the podium in Italy this weekend.
“The test produced indications which led us to understand what did not work as it should have done, and we have put those elements right for the next event,” wrote Alonso on the Ferrari website.
“I am therefore confident about our chances of getting back to fighting for a place on the podium.”
Alonso admitted that it is important for him to get a good result this weekend if he is to have a realistic chance of winning the title.
“There is no denying that the Monza race will be very important.
“At our home circuit we will have to do everything to avoid losing any more points: a good result here would be a great boost. If things go badly, it won’t be over but it would be a hard knock for team morale.”
“I have always said — and I repeat it now — that in the course of the season, good luck and bad luck tend to balance one another out, so let’s hope that from now on it’s payback time.”
Meanwhile, Red Bull driver Mark Webber, currently second behind Hamilton, is aware that the high-speed nature of the Monza track will play into the hands of his rivals, but he is confident that his team can come away with a decent result.
He said: “I think we can still do well at Monza but we might have a bit more in the way of opposition — in addition to Ferrari, McLaren and Renault, Force India could also be in the mix for the top places.”
Number of mistakes
His teammate, German Sebastian Vettel, who has been criticised after making a number of mistakes in recent races, insisted that his experiences have made him a better racer.
“If everything goes well, you are the greatest. If you make an error, and some people simply do not understand exactly the reasons why, then you very fast become the idiot.
“The most important thing is that I know the truth myself. In Hungary I was asleep during the safety car period and made an error, and in Spa, when I lost the car while overtaking Jenson Button, I made a mistake too, but I am open and honest enough to admit that.
“I’m not proud of it, but you cannot change anything other than try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. In the end, the mistakes make you a better driver.”
Vettel also expects a tough race this weekend but is still confident that he will be the number one driver by the end of the year.
“I do not worry about myself. I know how good we are and I will this year take the title.”
Eager to make up lost ground
Having been taken out of the Belgian Race by Vettel, Button is eager to make up the ground he lost and expects his team to be very competitive this weekend.
He said: “Obviously, my non-finish in Spa wasn’t ideal for my championship aspirations, so I head to Monza next weekend determined to put myself back in the hunt for the title.
“Our pace over the whole weekend in Belgium was extremely encouraging — we’re developing the car at a very rapid rate, and we’re learning more about it all the time, so I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to maintain that form in Italy.
His teammate, Hamilton, is also upbeat about his chances this weekend and will be going all out for the win.
“I’ve made no secret of my wish to win this race,” he said. “Monza is an incredible circuit — full of history and stories from the past. It has a special feeling in the air that you don’t find anywhere else in the world.”
“It’s a circuit that inspires you to race at your limit, and I’ll be pushing hard all weekend. — Sapa-AFP