Alonso gunning for victory in Singapore

Spain’s Fernando Alonso is determined to build on the momentum of winning in Italy with another victory under the lights this week in Singapore as the Formula One title race heats up.

The 29-year-old produced a near-flawless drive for Ferrari at Monza to put him third behind Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton of McLaren in the world championship standings, with just five grands prix to go.

“Despite failing to score in Belgium, where the accident on the first lap weighed heavily like a stone, Ferrari and I have scored more points than anyone else in these last four races,” he said. “That makes us even more confident and the fact these results came on tracks with very different characteristics to one another confirms for me that our car is pretty versatile.”

Alonso has a good record on Singapore’s bumpy street circuit, winning controversially for Renault in 2008 when Nelson Piquet Jnr deliberately crashed, before a third-place finish last year behind Hamilton.

The Briton crashed out on the first lap in Monza, colliding with Felipe Massa then sliding into a gravel trap to cap a miserable weekend and deal his championship dreams a blow.

But he hopes to avoid similar mistakes on Sunday.

“Winning in Singapore last year was one of the most satisfying victories of my Formula One career,” said Hamilton, who has now failed to score in two of his past three races.

“I’ve already drawn a line under Monza,” he added. “I’ve learnt from the experience and, while it was extremely disappointing, those things are sometimes what you need to sharpen your mind and raise your game and motivation at an extremely crucial time in the season.”

After 14 of this year’s 19 races, Hamilton is second in the title race with 182 points, five behind Webber, with Alonso third on 166.

Defending world champion Jenson Button is still in the hunt with 164 points while young German Sebastian Vettel is fifth, a point further adrift.

This means that the top five are separated by just 24 points—one point fewer than the 25 awarded for a single race win.

Hoping for a strong result
Australia’s Webber managed only sixth in Italy and knows he needs to do better in Singapore, where the track demands precision, nerve, and confidence.

“I like Singapore.
It’s unique as we race at night,” he said. “I’m hoping to improve on last year’s result, as it’s a high downforce street circuit that should suit our car.

“It’s got some similarities to Monaco and Budapest and we did well at both those circuits, so I’m hoping for a strong result. We’ve yet to experience any wet running on a flood-lit track, so it will be interesting if that happens.”

Webber’s Red Bull teammate, Vettel, is preparing for a tough race, not just because of the bright lights that illuminate the circuit, but because it is a windy, difficult track to master.

“The circuit has 23 corners so it’s extremely important for the driver to find a good rhythm without touching the barriers,” said the German. “Besides that, this circuit is hard on the brakes and it has a lot of kerbs. The resulting bumpiness demands extreme concentration from the driver.”

This year’s race is only the third time the Formula One circus has descended on Singapore but it has already become a favourite of the drivers, partly due to its night race status but also because of the challenge.

In a bid to improve safety and driver comfort, organisers have made minor revisions this year.

After complaints about severe bumps, resurfacing has taken place between Turn 3 and Turn 7, as well as between Turn 14 and 19.—Sapa-AFP

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