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Championship looking ‘difficult’ admits Alonso 30 Sep 2007

Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren back in the paddock.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Fuji Speedway, Fuji, Japan, Sunday, 30 September 2007 Crash of Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Fuji Speedway, Fuji, Japan, Sunday, 30 September 2007 Crash of Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Fuji Speedway, Fuji, Japan, Sunday, 30 September 2007 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 leads Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 at the start.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Fuji Speedway, Fuji, Japan, Sunday, 30 September 2007

Fernando Alonso’s hopes of defending his Formula One drivers’ title were dealt a serious blow on Sunday when the Spaniard crashed out of the Japanese Grand Prix. After going into the Fuji race trailing leader Lewis Hamilton by just two points, he left it 12 points adrift.

Having started second to eventual victor Hamilton, Alonso struggled in the opening stages, dropping to eighth place. He sustained damage to his car in a clash with Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel, but had climbed his way back up to fourth before disaster struck on lap 42.

“When I was braking for Turn Five I just aquaplaned and spun,” he explained. “Unfortunately the walls at that corner are very close to the track, so I hit the barrier heavily, and that was it.”

The safety car was deployed to clear up the debris, as an unharmed Alonso got a scooter ride back to the pits. There, he insisted he hadn’t given up hope of winning the title for a third consecutive year.

“Of course, it is a difficult situation for me now in the championship; however, I will keep fighting until the end - as last year’s championship battle showed anything can happen.”

Race winner Hamilton had dramas of his own, surviving a heavy impact with BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica, which earned the Polish driver a drive-through penalty. Hamilton is now odds-on favourite to become the first rookie champion, though he insisted he is only thinking about the next race.

“I was lucky that nothing serious happened to my car when Kubica hit me,” said the Englishman. “I didn’t see him come so the impact caught me by surprise, and I spun. Afterwards I stayed concentrated and focused on keeping the car on the track.

“I want to say thank you to everybody in the team who have done a great job throughout the weekend. This was an important victory for the championship, but I do not want to think too much about it and will focus hard on the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai next weekend.”

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen is the only other driver who can now challenge for the title. The Finn has 90 points to Alonso’s 95 and Hamilton’s 107.