Ecclestone: Fernando Alonso “gave up a little bit” in 2013

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Most Formula One observers will tell you that Fernando Alonso did the best he could in 2013 with a car that was nowhere capable of helping him bring the fight to Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull.

Despite the Ferrari F138’s troubles, Alonso scored victories in China and his home country of Spain en route to a second-place performance in the driver’s championship behind Vettel. The two-time World Champion also became the all-time points leader in F1 history.

But apparently, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone wasn’t impressed. According to Reuters, the 83-year-old British billionaire has written in a foreword to the official F1 season review that he was disappointed in Alonso’s work this past year.

“I’ve been a little bit disappointed in Fernando because I’m a big supporter of him and of Ferrari,” Ecclestone wrote. “I thought he gave up a little bit which is proof that he was looking for another team.

“I don’t know whether the team is not competitive because of him or because the people who are running the team aren’t getting the job done.”

By its own admission, Ferrari had a tough year that continued a championship drought that has gone on since Kimi Raikkonen’s world title effort in 2007.

The pace of the F138 fell off markedly during the second half of the season, and the Prancing Horse eventually dropped to third in the constructors’ championship behind Red Bull and Mercedes. But the Spaniard is not the one to blame for that.

Enduring through issues like wind tunnel correlation and the mid-year change in tires, Alonso was still able to stay quite competitive; in fact, following the debut of the new tires in Germany, he was still able to collect four podium finishes in the remaining races.

Mr. Ecclestone appears to have a funny definition of what “giving up” means. Because Alonso, regarded by some as the best pound-for-pound driver in the F1 paddock, certainly didn’t do that in 2013.

In any case, it’s potential “bulletin board” material for him and the team from Maranello as they work on reclaiming the throne next year.

Toro Rosso at crossroads after Kvyat’s point, Hartley’s strong debut

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In a weekend with something to prove at Circuit of The Americas, Daniil Kvyat rose to the occasion with what he called “his best race of the season for sure” at the United States Grand Prix.

But it may not be enough for the Russian to have saved his seat at Scuderia Toro Rosso for the three final races this year.

Meanwhile, New Zealander Brendon Hartley capped off his roller-coaster debut weekend in Formula 1 with a solid 13th place finish after starting from the rear of the grid, learning as the race went on and bringing home his Toro Rosso chassis to the flag.

Toro Rosso faces a dilemma of three drivers available but only two seats to fill for the final three Grands Prix, with the Mexican Grand Prix coming up just next week.

Frenchman Pierre Gasly will be back after missing Austin due to his Super Formula commitments at Suzuka in Japan, but ultimately that went for naught as the races were canceled due to a typhoon.

Kvyat qualified 12th, was promoted to 11th by way of grid penalties and ended 10th, scoring a point for only the third race this year and first time since coming ninth in the Spanish Grand Prix back in May.

It was a weekend where he would have been expected to outdo Hartley, and did so, but not by a massive margin. And he was already coming in with a track time disadvantage, losing out in FP1 as Indonesian Formula 2 driver Sean Gelael ran in his chassis.

As it was, he rated his weekend performance highly and didn’t do his chances of staying in the car any harm.

Speaking to NBCSN after the race, Kvyat said, “Yeah, it was a perfect race. I did everything well. Brought the points home. It was close with (Felipe) Massa.

“We had some energy release issues on the engine. But it was a massive weekend. It was great. I really enjoyed myself. It was a good job by the team to keep it together with very limited running.

Hartley built up confidence throughout the weekend as he learned the car, the Pirelli tires and how an F1 race races versus an endurance race that he’d been used to doing for several years.

Having coming into the weekend with no expectations and just taking the race session-by-session, he felt good at the end of it.

“There’s so many little things to reflect on,” he told NBCSN. “I’ll put the eyes at rest and process it all. I did the standing start and it wasn’t the best… it’s been a long time.

“But yeah, (you’re learning) in terms of following in traffic, what 20 laps on these tires means, how much you can push it. I’m pretty satisfied. The pace was pretty strong. I made the mistake of getting passed by (Lance) Stroll. I couldn’t pass him back. Lots of challenges. I hope I can get another shot at it.

“Up until this moment… I didn’t want to know. I just wanted to do the job. I’m really relaxed. Now there might be some conversations.”

Toro Rosso figures to reveal its Mexican Grand Prix driver lineup early this week.