LONDON — Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso says he still believes he can win the Formula One motor racing title despite trailing Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel going into the final two races.
Report by BBC Sport
Alonso gained only three points on Vettel in Abu Dhabi. The Red Bull driver started from the pit lane to finish third, one place behind Alonso.
“I’m confident,” said the Spaniard — 10 points adrift of Vettel with 50 still available.
“We will fight to the end. We are not fast enough, this is true and we know this.”
After a topsy-turvy season, Red Bull have moved their car on to another performance level since the Singapore Grand Prix at the end of September.
Before Abu Dhabi, Vettel won consecutive races in Singapore, Japan, Korea and India, and the Red Bull was the fastest car again in the race in Abu Dhabi.
Vettel started from the pit lane after being excluded from qualifying because there was not enough fuel in his car for the requisite one-litre sample.
The Ferrari, meanwhile, continues to struggle for pace in qualifying and while it is more competitive in the race it is still not as fast as the Red Bull.
Alonso said: “It’s a weak point, the performance that we have at the moment in our package, but we have some strong points which we will try to use.”
After India, the Spaniard said he was “100% confident” of winning the title, a position from which he rowed back a little after Abu Dhabi.
“We have two important races. We will try to finish in front of Sebastian,” he said. “We know that maybe with pure pace we cannot do it; we need to use other points.”
Alonso believes Ferrari have the best team in terms of strategy and operation and he is hoping this will give him an advantage.
Ferrari took some upgrades to Abu Dhabi and although they did not allow the team to compete at the front in qualifying, Alonso said he believed they had improved the car.
“It helped for sure,” he said, “because when we tested it on Friday, they gave us some performance, but we are talking very few hundredths of advantage.
“When you have a gap to close that is a couple of tenths, when you bring hundredths and your opponents bring also some new parts, I think more or less you are in the same position.
“So, we need to keep working and in Maranello they work day and night very hard to bring new parts. Here in the track, mechanics work 24 hours and we are doing our maximum and hopefully it will be enough.”
Vettel said: “We have a very good car at the moment, the team is switched on and sharp, everyone is enjoying the moment.
“I am looking forward to the next races, we have a fantastic chance. It is up to us.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner revealed that Vettel always believed he could finish on the podium in Abu Dhabi.
“Sebastian is just going about his job, he is menally incredibly strong,” Horner said.
“I went to see Sebastian before the race and he was in his room playing a drum kit with his trainer,” he said.
Horner added: “We know how consistent Fernando has been this year. It was entirely predictable that starting sixth he was going to be on the podium.
“I had already mentally got an image of Fernando taking between 15 and 25 points out of us, so to limit that to only three and finish behind him is a remarkable recovery and a great drive by Sebastian.”