Alonso: McLaren, Red Bull, Force India are “beatable”

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If Fernando Alonso had even the faintest hope of claiming a third successive German Grand Prix victory at Hockenheim this weekend, he may as well forget it.

Ferrari once again produced an underwhelming performance on Saturday to qualify P7 and P12 as Alonso outqualified teammate Kimi Raikkonen for the seventh time this season.

Alonso’s record at Hockenheim is enviable. He has won a grand prix there on three occasions, including the last two runnings of the German Grand Prix at the track in 2010 and 2012. However, with the F14 T proving to be a very difficult car to work with, he was left to settle for seventh on the grid for tomorrow’s race.

However, Alonso is not resigning himself to a lacklustre Sunday, saying that he believes the other teams in contention for a podium finish are beatable.

“I think we need to see,” the Spaniard said. “There are always some surprises at the races. Some races we expect to be competitive and we are not; some races we find ourselves quite competitive.

“I think in front of us, we understand that Mercedes probably are too quick, it’s difficult to fight with them. But Red Bull, Force India, McLaren, they are beatable, so we can fight with them.”

Given that the raw pace of the F14 T leaves much to be desired, Alonso will be looking at other factors such as tire strategy and weather patterns to see if Ferrari can recover some positions at the front.

“It’s a race we need to manage in the best way possible with a good start, and a good understanding of the tires with these temperatures,” he said. “Try to anticipate what is the best strategy, and looking at the weather, threats of storms coming in the afternoon.

“We’ll see tomorrow. We’ll be ready for anything.”

Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”