Alonso motivated by title heartache

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Losing the championship at the final race in two of the past three seasons may be enough for some drivers to enter a new year still reeling from the result, but Fernando Alonso insists that he is only motivated by his recent title heartache.

“I feel privileged to fight for the world championship two times in three years. Very few people have the opportunity to fight for a world championship.

“We lost two times in the three years in the last race and we want to have the opportunity to fight again for the world championship, hopefully again this year and hopefully to change the result. This is maybe some extra motivation for me and the team.”

Since joining Ferrari in 2010, Alonso has produced some of his best performances in the sport, and he claimed three wins last season on his way to second place in the championship. Having lost out to Sebastian Vettel by just three points, Alonso pointed to the beginning of last season as the stumbling block in his title challenge as he hopes to have a better start in 2013.

“It will be difficult to start any worse. The winter has been much better than last year. We need to start on the right foot and hopefully score some good results for the championship.”

The double world champion also admitted that he did not have a clear idea of the pecking order, but he was hopeful that Ferrari would be in the mix for the win on Sunday.

“No one knows who can win this race at the moment. I expect the five top teams to have a little advantage and not have many surprises in the first races. It’s very close and very difficult to choose one favorite. It’s very difficult and dangerous to make any conclusion.”

Daniel Ricciardo would relish being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate

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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo says he would relish the challenge of having Lewis Hamilton as his teammate if he joins Mercedes next year.

Ricciardo is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of the season and expressed interest in joining teams like Mercedes or Ferrari to help him challenge for the championship.

The Australian says he would “love to obviously be challenged against the best and Lewis is obviously up there.”

He adds: “I don’t want to say it’s just Lewis I’m looking for but that would be a good challenge.”

Ricciardo says he won’t accept a faster car if it means playing second fiddle to an established star.

He says “there’s always been really good clarity and fairness (at Red Bull) … and I would expect that environment everywhere.”