Alonso is now the man to beat for the title
27 September, 2010
Sep.27 (Daniel Chalmers) After a flawless Singapore GP everything is falling into place for Fernando Alonso, and his status as F1’s most complete driver is really starting to shine through.
Monza was one of Alonso’s finest F1 victories under immense pressure in front of Ferrari’s home fans, and with his title aspirations rapidly slipping away. However his drive in Singapore was even better in every single way.
He was immense right from the first lap in practise. Sebastien Vettel was the firm favourite for pole position but Fernando produced a stunning lap to beat him when it mattered most.
In the race Vettel and Alonso were in a world of their own exchanging fastest laps never more than 3.5 seconds apart, over a very long and physical race.
Alonso was under huge pressure particularly in the final stint of the race but held firm never looking like he would make a mistake, even when Vettel closed right up in the final couple of laps.
It would be fair to say that Red Bull had the slightly quicker car overall this weekend, which makes Alonso’s drive even more mighty.
Not only that, but the win was hugely significant. Alonso is now only 11 points behind Mark Webber in the championship (and now equal on race wins). This is a tiny margin considering 25 points is now awarded to the race winner.
He is in the position now where it is all in his hands. He doesn’t have to rely on others making mistakes anymore in order to close the gap.
Out of the last five tracks Singapore was meant to be one of the strongest for Red Bull. So for Ferrari to be able to beat Red Bull here bodes extremely well for the final races.
Suzuka again ought to be a strong Red Bull circuit. However if Alonso could beat Red Bull around the streets of Singapore then there is no reason why he can’t pose a strong threat to them again in Japan.
Korea, Brazil and Abu Dhabi should be even stronger for Ferrari. Alonso told BBC Sport: “We will be 90% at a lot of the tracks. We don’t have any disadvantage in any track so we can benefit from this consistency.”
Alonso has been criticised for his mistakes this season. However the main reasons for those errors were the superior pace of the Red Bulls.
The Spaniard was simply over-driving to compensate for the lack of pace his F10 had in comparison to the RB6. This resulted in the silly errors we saw in Australia, China and Monaco. No matter how good a driver is it’s impossible to make up the deficit Ferrari had to Red Bull earlier in the season.
Crucially in all those races Alonso delivered amazing comeback drives, and still secured big points. These points have all added up and are making a big difference to him now. The points you score on bad days can be even more important than those you score on good days.
Now that his car is there or thereabouts, we are now seeing the vintage Alonso we were so used to during his championship winning days with Renault. That is ultra-quick, super consistent and reliable.
When there is a sniff of a victory he is always there to take it, and is very hard to stop.
He is one of those drivers that wins all the races he should win, and can win some of those he shouldn’t. Singapore will go down as one of those days.
With these two fine race victories under his belt he is now carrying all of the momentum into the last four races. He is now F1’s in-form driver. He has scored more points than anybody in the last five races
There is no doubt that the business end of the season is the right time to reach your peak performance. This is what Ferrari and Alonso are currently doing.
Very often in sport there is much less pressure when you are coming from a long way behind, as opposed to defending a lead and constantly being labelled favourites to land the title.
Hamilton was the star in the middle part of the season and was praised for his increasing maturity.
All of a sudden now that the intensity of the title race has cranked up he has sunk back into all or nothing mode, and made a couple of questionable decisions.
His tangle with Felipe Massa in Monza, and his incident with Webber this weekend were both needless incidents that have cost him big points. This was more reminiscent of the Hamilton we saw a couple of seasons ago
Instead of leading the championship as he could have done, he is now on the brink along with team mate Jenson Button.
In certain periods of this race McLaren were around 1.5 seconds slower than the pace that Alonso and Vettel were producing.
Do McLaren have the pace to keep up between now and the end of the season?
Suzuka won’t be McLaren’s best track. An unfavourable result there and it could be game over. Although undoubtedly their car will be stronger in Korea and Abu Dhabi.
You also have to wonder if Webber is now starting to ride his luck a little bit. He should thank his luck stars that his tyre held on till the end.
Also he is yet to have any issues with unreliability this season unlike his team mate.
The law of averages suggests that will change at the most critical time. The advantage his car had over the rest of the field is now on the constant decrease.
Whilst it’s true that Vettel was mighty this weekend his brush with the wall in qualifying prevented him from sealing pole position, and he stayed in second gear when exiting the pits. It really should have been him on the top step of the podium.
It’s these tiny margins of error that can make the difference between winning a title and losing a title.
Critically Alonso is still the only driver in the title race who has his team mate as rear gunner. Alonso knows he can count on Felipe’s help as the Brazilian admitted to reporters in Singapore his own title hopes were gone when questioned about it.
Felipe said: “I am not stupid. I know how this sport works, so for sure yes. It is pretty clear.”
The Red Bull and McLaren drivers are still fighting each other. At the rate things are going they are going to continue taking points off each other.
Vettel and Jenson Button both took more points than their team mates who are higher up in the table.
Now that Alonso is right in the thick of it that could potentially become much more decisive.
Out of the five title contenders Alonso appears to be in the best frame of mind. By coming back from a long way behind all the attention is on all the others to stop him from winning.
His last two victories will give him a huge morale boast going into the all important last four races. You can guarantee he will be in top form now the prize is in sight, and that is pretty formidable for his opposition.
The atmosphere at Ferrari is going to be absolutely electric over the next few days, whilst at Red Bull and McLaren it’s likely that matters are likely to become tenser.
Crucially Alonso has the most experience of championship challenges and knows what it takes to get his hand on the trophy.
He told BBC Sport: “Fighting for a first championship is really intense. Sometimes it is not the best thing.”
He added: “[I] don’t have the pressure of becoming a world champion. You race in a more relaxed way. You know what you have to do.”
After a difficult first two thirds of the season everything is now coming together for Alonso, and he seems to have all the boxes he needs to win the title ticked.
Taking everything into account you probably would have to make him the slight favourite now.