Ferrari focused giving Fernando Alonso a fighting chance in qualifying at Brazilian Grand Prix

 

Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali fears Fernando Alonso's Formula One world title hopes could be scuppered this weekend unless his team give the Spaniard a fighting chance in qualifying.

Alonso goes into the final grand prix of the year in Brazil trailing Sebastian Vettel by 13 points, and with the odds long on overhauling the Red Bull star at the death.

Ferrari's Achilles heel is their one-lap pace on a Saturday as the 31-year-old has qualified on the top two rows of the grid only once in the last nine races since claiming back-to-back pole positions at Silverstone and Hockenheim.

Despite that, Alonso has managed to conjure some astonishing results as he has been on the podium in six of the last seven races to keep his championship hopes alive and take the battle down to the wire.

But if Alonso is to pip Vettel in becoming the ninth driver to win three world titles, he will almost certainly have to at least get ahead of the German on the grid at Interlagos.

"We always say it, but we need to improve our qualifying pace," said Domenicali, in light of Alonso qualifying a dismal ninth in Sunday's United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas.

"Unfortunately, in Austin we had one of the worst qualifyings of our championship.

"So we need to make sure in Brazil it is a different situation and it doesn't happen again otherwise it will be very, very difficult."

Arguably, Alonso's best hope of victory will be for Vettel to suffer a reliability issue that either compromises his grid position or affects him in the race.

"Pragmatically speaking we know the result has to be better," added Domenicali.

"We have to be in front of Sebastian and we need some drivers in the middle, without thinking of the worst-case scenario.

"This is the approach we need. We know it's not easy because he (Vettel) is driving very well and he has a very quick car.

"But that doesn't change what we have to do. We have to focus on our job and see what will be the outcome of the race.

"But we saw Mark [Webber] had a reliability issue (alternator failure in Austin) and that can happen every time.

"However, I want to stay concentrated on the job we have to do, and prepare the car in the best way we can."

Following the inaugural race at the Texas capital there was a clear sense within Red Bull they had only done half a job after clinching their third consecutive constructors' crown.

As far as team principal Christian Horner is concerned, there will be no let-up or thoughts of playing it conservatively in Sao Paulo.

"We have to approach this race as we have the previous 19," assessed Horner.

"We have to go there, attack the weekend, and get the best out of ourselves, the car, the strategy, the drivers and reliability.

"Anything can happen, as we have seen this season. But it is good to be going there with a lead, and we go there determined to close the job off because we're only halfway there."

Should Vettel duly follow his team's lead and make it three titles in a row, it will be an astonishing achievement for all inside Red Bull.

Horner, however, always suspected the fight for the drivers' crown would not be resolved until the final race of the season.

"We closed out one championship on Sunday," added Horner. "To have won three consecutive constructors' titles is something we could only have dreamed about a few years ago.

"To have achieved what we have over the past three years, in only our eighth year in the sport, is something quite remarkable.

"It is testimony to the long hours, the dedication and determination there is within the team that we've managed to achieve this.

"It is something every member of the team is fiercely proud of, but now we head to Brazil with a 13-point lead, with everything still to play for.

"I've said all season this championship would go to Brazil, and unfortunately I've been proved right."

PA

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there