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Pre-Monza analysis - home pressure for Alonso & Ferrari 06 Sep 2013

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday, 5 September 2013 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F138.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race Day, Hungaroring, Hungary. Sunday, 28 July 2013 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday, 5 September 2013 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F138.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 29 June 2013 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari talks with the media.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday, 5 September 2013

If it’s Monza, then there’s always pressure on Ferrari to deliver a home victory to the tifosi. And Fernando Alonso comes here under tremendous pressure to do just that in order to keep his slim world championship hopes alive.

Red Bull’s success at Spa-Francorchamps, another low-downforce track, rocked their rivals, and was an indication that the team from Milton Keynes have found the hitherto elusive key to high performance on every kind of circuit.

Twice a winner here, Alonso said: “I’m optimistic. For sure I think in Spa we saw some step forward from us and we hope to continue that direction and keep improving here in Monza. The characteristics of the track should help our performance as well. We have everything in place to do a good weekend. We need to deliver when the time comes on Sunday in the race, but we arrive with some good confidence and ready to fight. I think for us it will be a stronger test at the Singapore race when we come back to the maximum level of downforce etc and there we will see how much of a step forward we did. But let’s concentrate on this weekend. Let’s try to do the maximum and let’s try to finish in front of our main rivals.”

Asked what sort of result here would satisfy him here and in Singapore, he responded: “I don’t think two wins is something that we can put up like a target, y’know? We’ve won two Grands Prix until now in the championship so we will be a little bit too optimistic if we really think that we can win the next two races. We will try to do so and we will hope for the best but more realistic targets are to finish in front of Sebastian (Vettel).

“I think it is a target that we wanted to do in the last couple of Grands Prix, but we didn’t arrive in a situation to close the gap. We only closed the gap in Silverstone when he retired. So, we need to change this situation. We will be happy finishing in front of him, I think, here in Monza and in Singapore. Finishing in front of Sebastian means being on the podium. Minimum. Because we know how strong he is and how competitive Red Bull will be. So, two podiums and finishing in front of Sebastian is the target. If we cannot do so, if we keep losing points, obviously we need to start thinking about the 2014 project because we’ll be only six or seven races remaining with a massive points deficit.”

He said he remains relaxed about the championship situation, which surely has to be familiar to him after the past three seasons in which Ferrari have had to chase Red Bull.

“When you do the maximum and you maximise normally the potential of the car and of yourself, finding the limits every time you are behind the wheel, you feel relaxed yourself and happy with the work. Of course we want to fight for the championship like we did last year until the last race, and this year we see that slowly the gap in the championship is increasing every weekend. So we want to stop that. We need to change that situation and hopefully this weekend is the starting point. It’s still plenty of races, plenty of opportunities, plenty of points to play. We believe that we can do it.”

There’s been much speculation about his future after he revealed he is buying a cycling team recently, but he’s made it clear not only that he intends to keep racing to the end of his contract with Ferrari, and that he is minded to extend his time and to stay with the Scuderia.

“Now, more or less, everything is complete,” he explained, after a hectic week. “All the decisions and all the work that we need to do for the cycling team will be passed to other people, some managers and some sportive directors that we need to find. We need to find sponsors, we need to do a lot of things in the next month, let’s say, because the first race is in the middle of January in Australia. It’s not something that we can delay much more. It’s a very ambitious project with a lot of hopes on it. I will not, as I said, put too much percentage of my days on the bicycle team, especially now that we are fighting for the championship. But when I arrive in wintertime, hopefully we can create a solid project. Not so much for 2014 because I don’t think there are many riders now with possibilities to sign, but for 2015 onwards we need to create something big.”

The team is as-yet unnamed, and much will depend on the sponsors who are attracted to work with a world champion who will bring the best of cycling to his F1 training, and the best of F1 racing to his cycling team.

“What we want is to have a team that can fight for the best things,” he said, unsurprisingly given his highly competitive nature. “My passion for cycling has been from a very young age and I do cycling as part of my training and also as part of my life. I’m always in front of the TV or checking the results. I have very good friends in the cycling world. Alberto Contador is a good friend of mine. This project tries to bring together the best things of the two sports.”

Retirement is clearly far from his mind, however. “I’m in the best moment of my career, I’m with the best experience and performing at the best time. I will not miss any opportunity now. I know that I’m still in very good shape for maybe four, five more years so for sure I will give 100 percent of my passion that is motor sport and my career. After these four or five years, I will see what condition I am in and if I’m performing well.

“As for Red Bull or a sabbatical, they were only rumours in Italy. I still have three and a half more years with Ferrari which I intend to respect and hopefully to increase a little bit. And to finish my career in the best team in the world, which is Ferrari.”

David Tremayne

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