Alonso targeting third place in both F1 championships

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Fernando Alonso has set his sights on finishing third in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship behind the two Mercedes drivers, and is also hoping to help Ferrari fend off Williams to secure the same position in the constructors’ standings.

The team is currently enduring a difficult season after struggling to adapt to the new technical regulations for 2014. However, Alonso has continued to lead the team, and is just sixteen points behind Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo for third place in the drivers’ standings.

Although he knows it will be tough, he hopes to secure a top three finish in both tables come the end of the season.

“The priority is to help the team and to get in the fight for third place in the championship that we lost to Williams in Germany and recovered in Hungary,” Alonso explained on Thursday in Belgium. “I think it will be a close fight until the end.

“We have two races now that are a little bit in favor of Williams’ characteristics, so we need to deliver good results over the next two weekends to score good points. In the drivers’ championship, I’d like to finish third, fighting with Ricciardo.

“I know that this is quite an ambitious target so we’ll see what we can do.”

Alonso also reacted to claims from team principal Marco Mattiacci that Ferrari must become more prepared to take risk and be more aggressive. The Spaniard feels that this has been the philosophy at Maranello for some time.

“From the end of 2011, we had more or less the same message,” he said. “We took risks and were quite aggressive with the design of the 2012 car, with the pull rod at the front and the different concept of the exhaust. I don’t think that we were not aggressive enough.

“We just need to put some things together, we need to keep improving the car, the factory, the facilities, and be a stronger team with new ideas and new people coming in.”

Here’s who were picking to win the Indy 500 — who are YOU picking?

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Several members of the NBC Sports motorsports staff have made their predictions on who will win Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Of the six voters, two are going with 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden, while two others are going with Helio Castroneves to win a fourth 500, which would tie him with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.

Here’s our picks. Who are YOU picking?

Leigh Diffey: Helio Castroneves — He drives the place better than anyone else. For me (for what its worth) he deserves a fourth 500 ring for the frustration he went through never getting the IndyCar title!

Townsend Bell: Josef Newgarden

Nate Ryan: Simon Pagenaud — All of his 2018 misfortune on the track has disappeared in May, and it culminates in the biggest victory of his career.

Jerry Bonkowski: Helio Castroneves – There’s no pressure as he pursues his fourth Indy 500 win. All Helio has to do, as late NFL owner Al Davis would say, is “Just win, baby!” (But if Helio falls short, watch for Marco Andretti)

Kyle Lavigne: Josef Newgarden — I think he has everything he needs to get it done this year.

Dan Beaver: Robert Wickens – Has driven like anything except a rookie and his second-place finish at Phoenix proves he’s just as good on an oval as the road courses.

Follow: Jerry Bonkowski