Alonso pushing ahead with 2014 preparations

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Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso is making his final visit of the year to team headquarters in Maranello, and some of that time has included a run in the simulator to get used to how the Scuderia’s 2014 challenger will feel.

According to the team, he came away pleased.

“We managed to get through everything on the program that we had in the pipeline,” he said of his simulator session. “It was nice to be driving again, even if only in a virtual way. We went through a lot of ideas with the engineers.

“We are only at the start of a learning process which is moving forward all the time and it’s nice to be able to contribute to it.”

Dealing with a car that was noticeably down on pace during the second half of the season, Alonso had to use every veteran trick in the book to pull off second in the 2013 drivers’ championship to Sebastian Vettel.

But with the new technical regulations coming into play next year, there’s an opportunity for Ferrari to give their two-time former World Champion a car that can help him fight Vettel all the way through the season.

At a special team lunch this weekend, Alonso urged his crew members on.

“Everyone always expects a lot from us,” he said according to Ferrari’s official web site. “Next year, we will try to do better and I know you are working very hard.

“There are new rules and extra work for all of you, but you can count on maximum effort from us in terms of our physical and mental preparation to be in 100% shape in March for the opening race. We face an important time ahead and so, Forza Ferrari!”

F1 Paddock Pass: United States Grand Prix post-race (VIDEO)

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As Lewis Hamilton took another step towards his fourth Formula 1 World Championship Sunday at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas, plenty of other topics of discussion emerged in the wake of Round 17 of the season from Austin.

Hamilton’s win came as his Mercedes AMG Petronas team claimed its fourth consecutive Constructor’s Championship, Scuderia Ferrari came up short once again despite a valiant effort in second and third, and Max Verstappen’s penalty after the race was the major talking point.

Elsewhere Valtteri Bottas struggled again, the Sahara Force India twins continued to pick up points, Carlos Sainz Jr. made a major positive impact in his first start with Renault, Brendon Hartley impressed on debut at Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean and Haas F1 Team endured a tough weekend on Haas’ home soil.

Check out all the recap from the latest USGP in the latest post-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass with NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton, below.