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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada