Defiant Alonso insists race is still on despite Vettel win

 
Julian Harris
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FERRARI’S Fernando Alonso insists he can still win the Formula One drivers’ championship, despite watching Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel take the chequered flag for the fourth straight race yesterday.

Vettel, aiming for a third successive title, is now 13 points clear at the top of the rankings after winning the Indian Grand Prix in one hour, 31 minutes and 10 seconds – a comfortable 9.4 seconds ahead of Alonso. Vettel’s team-mate Mark Webber took third. “It’s not easy to fight with Red Bull but we will never give up,” Alonso said, although he conceded that Red Bull “were fantastic” over the weekend. “Nothing changed in one race. There are 75 points [still to go] and we are 13 behind and we know we need to improve. There are three races remaining and the championship is the main target. For that we need to make a step forward as at the moment we are not able to win. [But] I think [the final race in] Brazil will be quite good and hopefully I am going to be happy.”

With Red Bull significantly improving their car for the second half of the season, Vettel has led three consecutive races from the start, maintaining the No1 position for over 200 straight laps.

Yet Alonso maintains that his rival could still suffer faults during the crucial final three races.

“As we saw with Webber’s KERS problem, it can happen to Seb or it can happen to us, so I am optimistic,” the Spaniard added. Webber was overtaken by Alonso on lap 48 with the Australian unable to use his KERS ­– a system that injects extra acceleration power into the car.

Britain’s Lewis Hamilton then targeted Webber, and managed to close a four-second gap down to one second, while notching up some of the fastest laps of the race. Yet the McLaren driver, who will move to Mercedes next season, was unable to make a pass and finished fourth.

Hamilton started third on the grid alongside compatriot and team-mate Jenson Button, yet both were overtaken by an aggressive Alonso in the opening five laps. After losing position to Alonso, Button was overtaken by Hamilton, and stayed in fifth place to the end.

F1 RESULTS

Indian Grand Prix
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:31:10

2. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 1:31:21

3. Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1:31:24

4. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 1:31:25

Drivers’ Championship
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 240 pts

2. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 227

3. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) 173

4. Mark Webber (Red Bull) 167

5. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 165