Fernando Alonso

British GP – Alonso: “High hopes for the weekend”

Silverstone, 27 June – Not only is Fernando Alonso a quick driver, he is also an eloquent speaker, so he has many questions to deal with whenever he is in an FIA conference. However, this afternoon at Silverstone, most of the attention centred on Mark Webber, who announced he would retire from Formula 1, to join Porsche in the World Endurance Championship at the end of this season. On that topic, the Ferrari driver paid this tribute to the Australian who began his career moving into the Minardi seat that the man from Oviedo vacated in 2002. “Mark has picked the right time,” said Fernando. “This is a good opportunity for him, moving to drive for a very prestigious car brand to compete in the most famous motor race in the world (Le Mans) along with Formula 1. He will still enjoy being in the cockpit, but maybe he will have less stress to deal with out of it.”

On to the more pressing matter of this weekend’s race, the Ferrari man began by assessing the current championship situation. “All the races are important for us given the position we are in now,” he admitted. “We are 36 points behind the leaders, so there is not much room to lose more points. However, we must remain calm and try to win, or finish in front of Sebastian, or at least lose as few points as possible. Last year in Monza, I had a 42 point lead over Sebastian at Monza (actually, Fernando’s memory is playing tricks on him, as his lead was 39!) So to be 36 points down at this earlier point of the season is not ideal, but it’s not the end of the world.” Regarding his chances of repeating his famous 2011 win at this track, Alonso was in an optimistic frame of mind. “This has been a good circuit for us in the past and we have been competitive for the last three or four years. After China and Bahrain, this is the best track so far for us, so I have high hopes for the weekend. However, Red Bull has been the dominant force here since ’09 and I expect Mercedes to be very close as well.”

As to what might be the key to the weekend, there was nothing surprising about Fernando’s answer. “This year has been dominated by tyre behaviour, with some tracks suiting some cars and some suiting others. If you make the tyres work well and last properly, you have a better chance to win. Certainly, in the next couple of races, we need to up our game in terms of tyre preparation for Saturday and Sunday.”

The aforementioned 2011 victory came 60 years after Froilan Gonzalez gave the Prancing Horse its first ever Formula 1 World Championship win, right here in Silverstone and a few days ago came the sad news that the great Argentinian driver had passed away at the age of 90. “Sad news for Ferrari and the motorsport family,” commented the Spaniard. “I remember after winning the race I spoke to him on the telephone after the podium ceremony. At the time we dedicated the win to him so this weekend it would be nice to dedicate it again to his family, so it will be great to do a good job for him and all Ferrari fans.”

Abu Dhabi GP - 2015 starts on Tuesday

Abu Dhabi GP – 2015 starts on Tuesday

Yas Marina, 23 November – Fernando Alonso finished his final race for Scuderia Ferrari in ninth place, with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen right behind him…