Fernando Alonso has written off the 30 point gap to championship leader Sebastian Vettel, believing that the F138 has given him a great shot at the 2013 world championship.
“Last year we were 1.5 seconds behind the top cars. This year we have finished two races without problems and we were second in Australia and won in China. It’s a very different feeling – and very different package which brings us optimism and confidence,” Alonso explained during the drivers’ press conference.
When talking about the gap to Vettel, Alonso compared it to the way in which the Red Bull driver overcame his own lead last season.
“It’s true we are some points behind, but the Championship is long and we have seen last year that Sebastian was 43 points behind us after the summer break and arrived with the lead in Austin.
“In five or six races you can recover 50 points with some consistent results.”
However, Alonso did say that should the gap become too great, his championship aspirations would be over.
“Until we are 75 or 80 points behind, we should be optimistic.”
Ferrari has endured a mixed start to the season. Despite the F138 being ‘on a different planet’ compared to the 2012 car according to the drivers, two difficult races for Alonso has seen him drop back from the leaders. However, the team will be pleased to have already scored one win so far this season, and Alonso will be keen on impressing in front of his home fans this weekend.
Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.
Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.
Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.
“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.
“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”
Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.
“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.
“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”