Fernando Alonso may be relying on the old cliche of taking one race at a time, but if Red Bull’s rising consternation is to be believed, Ferrari could yet mount a decent bid to win this year’s title.
Defending champion Sebastian Vettel’s call for more dedicated work from the Red Bull team, along with team chief Christian Horner’s claim that Alonso was not only the winner but also the fastest man on the track in last Sunday’s British Grand Prix, suggests they see the Italians as their major threat.
McLaren, apparently confused in recent weeks, seem to be slipping away in the title race just as Ferrari are preparing to mount their almost traditional mid-year revival on the great high-speed circuits of the European season.
Alonso, however, like the wily and seasoned campaigner that he is, knows that nothing but speed, performance and consistent results will count as he begins the enormous task of cutting into runaway leader Vettel’s 92-point lead.
Taking his cue from Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo this week, Alonso said it was too early to talk of anything other than remaining grounded and thinking only of the next race.
Ferrari’s crushing of Red Bull at Silverstone is, to him, already in the past.
“That win won’t change our approach and we just have to remain entirely realistic now,” said the two-time world champion.
“We are 92 points behind in the classification and that is a very big gap!
“We will tackle the races one at a time, trying to win as many as possible and I know now that this will also involve taking a few more risks and maybe it will happen that we pay a high price for that, but there is no alternative.
“We are definitely not giving up, but we must not think about the championship — as our president has said already at Maranello, we are keeping our feet on the ground.”
The 29-year-old Spaniard believes also that recent changes to the off-throttle blown diffuser regulations have had nothing to do with Ferrari’s improved performances or the win at Silverstone.
For him, as for Red Bull, the story is that the scarlet scuderia have made real progress in recent weeks and can now produce front-running pace.
“I haven’t spent too much time thinking about the technical reasons behind the win in the British Grand Prix,” he added, in comments made on the Ferrari website.
“Each race has its own story and we know only too well how much things can change when you go from one track to another.
“There were definitely some major improvements on the car, which means it feels much easier to drive now and you can feel it much more stuck to the ground than before, especially in the fast corners.”
Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali, acknowledging the importance of the team’s first win of the year, said: “I am like Fernando … I want to be cautious, but, also, ‘You must never say never!’
The Ferrari revival has followed a revamping of the team’s technical staff earlier this year, when technical director Aldo Costa stepped down.
That move followed a terrible afternoon at the Spanish Grand Prix, where Alonso led but was eventually lapped by both the Red Bulls and McLarens.
Steady progress since has seen Alonso reap two podium finishes in three races before Silverstone, where he won convincingly.
“We took quite a big aerodynamic update there and everything worked — Felipe [Massa] and I are feeling happier with the car now, understandably” said Alonso.
“It is no secret that we lost a bit of ground in the first couple of races because we put new parts on the car that weren’t quick.
“But it seems that in the last three or four races every new part we put on the car is working fine. I am very proud of the recovery we have made.”
For Ferrari and Alonso, the next test comes in next weekend’s German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, a circuit where Red Bull will be desperate to bounce back and do well. — Sapa-AP