#895 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

2023-01-08 00:00

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#2013, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Livia Alegi,

#895 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

In the hardest of days, good news for Ferrari do not come from the wind tunnel, or even from Maranello. But directly from Adrian Newey, the Red Bull R


In the hardest of days, good news for Ferrari do not come from the wind tunnel, or even from Maranello. But directly from Adrian Newey, the Red Bull Racing genius, the designer who, along with Sebastian Vettel, has given the men in red so much grief over the past four years. And this is the news: having arrived at the top of the world with a near-perfect car, having triumphantly exhausted the cycle begun in 2009, Newey is beginning to tire. A small motivational crisis, a crack in the wall of perfection of one of the most complex personalities in motorsport. The outburst is an impressive one. 


"I'm almost fifty-four years old now. And honestly there's a bunch of other things I'd like to do. I feel that, although I don't know exactly when, the time to do other things is coming. And Formula 1 is too demanding a sport, too demanding an environment to do it well and at the same time devote yourself to other things".


Indeed, other things. What does other things mean for a designer who has won nine F1 constructor titles with three different team; one who has been able, in his career, to produce such gems as the four Red Bulls that are dominating the scene in this sporting era; one who will probably go down in history as the greatest designer of all time?


"In fact, I think I've run out of dreams. Although, come to think of it, there is something I would be very interested in doing: the America's Cup".


In fact, the pairing seems perfect. As transformed by Lerry Ellisone Russel Coutts, today's America's Cup, that of catamarans flying at three times the wind speed propelled by huge airplane wings, could not fail to fascinate a visionary engineer and perfectionist like Newey. His world and that of the America's Cup are so compatible that no one in the paddock thought for a moment that Newey's outburst was accidental. Thus, digging a little, it turns out that there have already been talks with Sir Ben Ainslie, the legend of British sailing, the man whose charisma and meanness made a decisive contribution to Oracle's comeback over New Zealand. Ainslie is building his team for the next America's Cup (BAR, Ben Ainslie Racing, the name) and looking for talented aerodynamicists to develop the new catamaran. But the path is frozen.


"We are already late for the next edition, and then my future, at least in the immediate term, is still here at Red Bull".


An answer which, given with the right smile, alludes to what, according to credited sources, would be Newey's real project. Start the new Red Bull cycle by designing the new car for next season (the crucial one, given the colossal rule change) and then convince Red Bull's patron, Didier Mateschitz, to start his own sailing team. The Austrian entrepreneur is already extensively involved in the America's Cup. He believed in it from the very beginning, sponsoring the Red Bull Youth America's Cup, a sort of spring version of the world's oldest regatta. It would only be a matter of taking a leap: and, this time, Newey would be there to put the wings on.


"One day people will remember what we are doing".


Sebastian Vettel enjoys his fourth consecutive world title: the Red Bull champion is over the moon.


"In Formula 1 you need a strong package: driver, team and car. I am sure that when Lewis Hamilton won in 2008 he had a strong team behind him, and so did Alonso in 2005 and 2006. The victory on Sunday was a great relief, an extraordinary feeling. I celebrated with the whole team, we had spontaneous fun, but we didn't get too wild partly because we had to think about the Abu Dhabi race". 


And adds:


"After the summer break we won all the races but here there is no certainty that things will go well, though we are confident we have a very good package. We love the challenge, we want to fight and win this race as well. Räikkönen? I have a lot of respect for what he has done in F1. He is a shy person but he talks to me and I appreciate that because towards me he has always been very honest and ready to help me".


Fernando Alonso’s reasoning is slightly different, as he admits that he is already thinking about the future.


"My relationship with Ferrari is perfect and will continue to be perfect. We have to be realistic, this year there was no chance to fight for the title. At the beginning of the year we were closer but not fast enough, now we are fighting for second place in both the constructors' and drivers' titles. Obviously this was not Ferrari's priority at the beginning of the season, but it is an important goal for the team and we have to do our best to achieve it. We have to stay very focused in the races between now and the end and do our best, but half our mind is already on 2014. We want to be competitive and we have to win: this year it was not possible, next year we start from scratch".


The Spaniard also has his say on Räikkönen, his next teammate in Ferrari:


 "I don't know him on a personal level but he is a great champion as a driver, that's the most important thing".


Lewis Hamilton, who is forced to look to next season to dream big, says something along the Spaniard’s same lines.


"Vettel and Red Bull did an incredible job and made life difficult for us. But we are not giving up, we want to raise the bar and get to their level next season. My goal and the team's goal is to win, we hope to do a good job in 2014. I am still focused on the work to be done this season, we need to improve many things both myself and the team. We want to finish second in the Constructors' World Championship and use these races to improve the single-seater for 2014 as well, because many of the things we are developing now we will also need well next year, where we need to be more competitive".


At Mercedes, the Ross Brawn case, who is increasingly at risk as team principal, continues to hold sway: Hamilton does not get out of line, stating that he has confidence in the team. 


"Whatever decision Ross makes, he will make it because it is the one he wants. We have so many great people in the team and the team will remain strong, I'm looking forward to see what we can do next year".


Felipe Massa jokes, or maybe not.


"It's kind of like driving on this track here – it's very similar to being on a sheet of ice with dry tires".


Called upon to inaugurate a new, very special kart track inside the steel-and-glass delirium known as Ferrari World - an all-Ferrari-inspired theme park built by sheiks in the middle of the desert - the Brazilian takes his cue from this very track, which resembles a frozen lake, to describe the sensations of driving the 2014 Ferrari prototype. As if to say: right now, next year's car is undriveable. And yet there is not a hint of alarm in the Brazilian's tone. 


Not only because it won't be his problem - since he, in all likelihood, will be at Williams; the announcement is expected before the Brazilian Grand Prix - but also because given the regulatory revolution and the early stage of design, the prototype tested so far is little more than a car embryo:


"So far I have only driven it in the simulator. And the thing that has impressed me is how little grip it has. In fact, by now I have gotten the idea that it will not be the engines, as they say, that will be the key to the season but, once again, the aerodynamics".


Ferrari's curse. Obviously much of the car’s final performance will depend on what happens from here on out, what pieces the aerodynamic engineers will be able to produce. 


"I don't know anything about those, though: knowing that I'm leaving, if they've done something new, they certainly haven't told me about it".


They no doubt mentioned this to Alonso, who in fact seems more optimistic regarding this. 


"Of course next year's car right now has much less grip than the ones we drive today. But that's normal, with the new exhaust rules, we knew that would be the case. Everything is different, the engine has more torque, and the driving changes drastically. There's so much to work on, but I think it's very fascinating, because you can feel that there's a lot of potential still to be discovered - we test it two weeks apart and every time we get on the simulator we find it improved by 200%. Also because we've been working on it for a long time, it's already been many Grands Prix that every Friday we take pieces to the track with a view to 2014. Not in terms of aerodynamics because the cars are too different but mostly in terms of materials and technologies".


Still, 2014 remains a huge question mark: 


"No one knows what will happen. We will certainly see things being reshuffled. I am very hopeful. Because I think we've done a good job from an organizational point of view, new people have come in who I think are good. And then there is the rule reset, we all start from a blank sheet of paper".


A golden opportunity.


"Yes, in theory. Now we have turn it into practice".


Despite already winning a fourth world title, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing seem to have no intention of leaving anything to their competitors. The German is the fastest on the first day of free practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the third-to-last round of the World Championship. Vettel laps in 1'41"335, leaving Mark Webber's twin car 0.155 seconds behind. The first of the Mercedes, that of Lewis Hamilton, is two tenths slower than the Australian. Just 0.066s behind is Kimi Räikkönen’s Lotus. And it is precisely the Finnish driver who is the great protagonist of the second hour and a half of practice. Kimi, in fact, is very fast in race trim, showing that he can fight on equal terms with the Red Bull World Champion. Unfortunately, problems on Romain Grosjean's other Lotus (fastest in the first session) prevented the Frenchman from playing with them. On the other hand, Mercedes faced difficulties in the race simulation and appeared to be struggling with yellow-band tires. The McLarens also did well, placing Sergio Pérez and Jenson Button in sixth and seventh place, 0.004 seconds apart and over 0.75 seconds from Sebastian Vettel in qualifying trim, but just behind the German and Kimi Räikkönen in race mode. 


The Ferraris seem to be struggling, with Fernando Alonso finally setting the eighth time, 0.836 seconds off the best time of the day; while Felipe Massa is tenth, 1.1 seconds behind. In short, another troubled day for the Maranello team, which must catch up to Mercedes and Lotus to try not to lose any more points in the race for second place. It is difficult to assume a start by either F138 in the first two rows, more likely that one of the two, perhaps Massa's, will place third. Sebastian Vettel is still there on the tarmac, pushing like crazy, as if he had won nothing, as if he had not celebrated a record-breaking victory in India. The track, this year, is his. And it doesn't matter that it's Friday, that it doesn't matter. He wants to be in front, to win, to set records. He is a cannibal, right up to the last meter. Especially since Friday, in the Renault motorhome, a special guest is watching him scramble the stopwatch. For the past week, Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost have shared the status of four-time World Champion.


"But Vettel won his four world championships back-to-back and at only 26 years old. I won my first Grand Prix at 26. And I had to wait until I was 30 for a World Championship. He is exceptional".


You seem surprised. 


"No, not at all. I think he is an extraordinary driver. And this year he had his best season ever. He always had everything under control".


Did you expect him to become so strong? 


"Maybe not like this. He has had an impressive progression, season after season he has grown continuously".


Actually, not everyone agrees with you. In fact, there are many who say that the dominance is Red Bull's rather than the driver's. 


"Yes, I know they say that. But I don't agree with it. I know the way the team works internally, and I know that Sebastian also plays an important role in the development of the car. With someone like that, one can only congratulate him".


According to some, he should change teams to prove that he really is the best.


"I don't agree with that at all. You don't change the team because of outside pressure. Or because maybe the public prefers it that way. You only change the team if you no longer have motivation, if you have personal problems, or if you think another team can be more competitive".


To be exact, they say he should go to Ferrari. 


"I wouldn't go if I were him. He is in the most competitive team. And from next year, with the new rules, he will also have new stimuli".


And what do you think about Ferrari? 


"It is always difficult to talk about Scuderia Ferrari. They haven’t won for a few years now. But it is also true that it faced a tough opponent like Red Bull Renault. They are the victims of domination. Similar to Ferrari in Schumacher's time. But now we are starting from scratch". 


Prost was removed when he called Ferrari a truck. Alonso angered Montezemolo by publicly expressing a desire to drive a Red Bull. 


"A sentence that didn't need to be uttered. Nothing more. A team must always be solid and work together".


A mistake? 


"It was unnecessary, above all".


Saturday, November 2, 2013 Mark Webber takes pole position in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the third-to-last round of the Formula 1 World Championship. The Australian Red Bull driver is fastest in the third heat of qualifying, with a 1'39"957. Webber, on his second pole of the season and number 13 of his career, will start ahead of his teammate. German Sebastian Vettel, who celebrated his fourth consecutive world title in India, laps in 1'40"075. Behind Red Bull Racing, which arrived in Abu Dhabi with the Constructors' title in its trophy cabinet, will be the Mercedes of Germany's Nico Rosberg (1'40"419) and Britain's Lewis Hamilton (1'40"501), who will occupy the second row. On the third row, in P5 and P6, will be the Lotus of Finland's Kimi Räikkönen (1'40"542) and the Sauber of Germany's Nico Hulkenberg (1'40"576). But Räikkönen is excluded, after his Lotus failed the post-qualifying floor deflection test as the bottom of the car was flexing more than allowed. The steward notes that Lotus' explanation for the malfunctioning part was that the part in question broke upon contact with a curb. But he also adds that the stewards did not accept that the incident in question constituted an accident, or a valid excuse for this test. Räikkönen, therefore, will start at the back of the grid. Brazilian Felipe Massa, driving the Ferrari, sets the seventh best time (1'41"015) and will line up on the fourth row next to Frenchman Romain Grosjean's Lotus (1'40"997). Disappointment for Fernando Alonso: the Spaniard is eliminated in Q2 and will start from P10. 


The Spaniard, who is defending his second place in the overall standings, will start behind the McLaren of Mexican Sergio Pérez (1'41"068) and the Toro Rosso of Australian Daniel Ricciardo (1'41"111). With three races to go, Alonso must administer a 24-point lead over Kimi Räikkönen. Ferrari, however, is in danger of seeing its second place in the Constructors' Championship slip away. With 309 points, the Maranello team is four points behind Mercedes, which can consolidate its second position behind the impregnable Red Bull Racing (470 points) here in Abu Dhabi. A one-way ticket from never give up to save yourself. Ferrari’s backward journey, shrimp-style, hits rock bottom, with the worst qualifying of the season, in the least appropriate place on the globe. In Abu Dhabi, throngs of sheiks, emirs, oligarchs and oil men, all potential customers, flock to the shadow of Ferrari world to admire the exploits of Alonso and Massa and the brand of made in Italy most loved by the rich. They want to applaud the myth and instead, at least so far, find themselves having to admire the men of Red Bull Racing, whose colors have nothing to do with the magnificent red roof of the world's largest motor theme park; and, behind them, those of Lotus, Mercedes and even Sauber and Scuderia Toro Rosso. Yes, because in spite of presidential orders, it was a fully demobilized Ferrari that showed up here among the palm trees and sand. Luca Montezemolo preached on October 15:


"I read that the team's focus would be all about 2014. I don't even want to hear about it. There are still four races where I demand a Ferrari that fights for the podium with the utmost determination".


The team's response - the entire team - was inadequate, to say the least. The F138, a car that wasn’t even born too badly, has practically stalled. The few developments brought to the track did not work for the most part, and those that did work made less of an impact than expected. The vertical collapse of the car has been answered by the symmetrical collapse of the drivers. Alonso seems to have fallen into an incomprehensible whirlpool, somewhere between unmotivated and tired. 


He could not get beyond 11th place (then 10th due to the disqualification of Kimi Räikkönen, who will start from the last row) at Yas Marina. For goodness’ sake, nobody is questioning his talent. And yet it is undeniable that seeing him finish behind Massa in qualifying for the third time has a certain effect. 


"It's true, but then I always scored more points on Sunday. Saturday is good for the show. And a lot of things change in the race, those who are fast on Saturday maybe aren’t the next day. Let's try to have the perfect race and see what happens, I'm optimistic".


Of course, everyone at Ferrari hopes he is right. Also because, right now, Ferrari's prestige in the eyes of the sheikhs isn’t the only thing at stake, but also its position in the constructors' standings. The Maranello team's ambition is well known, the goal is second place, which also means a lot of money in the till (15.000.000 euros). And yet from what we are seeing these days, the impression is that it will be very, very hard. Because, as Felipe Massa puts it:


"Because Lotus and Mercedes are more competitive".


On Sunday, November 3, 2013, at the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Sebastian Vettel gets off to a good start and moves into first position, followed by Nico Rosberg, Mark Webber, Romain Grosjean, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hülkenberg and the two Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso. Between laps 7 and 10 Hamilton, Webber, Grosjean, Hülkenberg and Rosberg make the first tire change. Felipe Massa thus moves up to second place, followed by Fernando Alonso and Paul di Resta. Sebastian Vettel stops for a tire change on lap 14, but remains in the lead of the race. Two laps later it is Fernando Alonso's turn, while Felipe Massa waits until lap 18. The race order then sees Mark Webber, who passes Nico Rosberg on lap 20, behind Sebastian Vettel, while Romain Grosjean confirms his fourth place. Adrian Sutil, who has not yet changed tires, is fifth, followed closely by Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa. On lap 26, the Brazilian takes advantage of the battle between the two ahead of him to pass Lewis Hamilton. Then they both pass Adrian Sutil. Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso, having joined the small group, manages to pass Nico Hulkenberg after a good fight, and then also passes Adrian Sutil. The German Force India driver changes tires only on lap 29. The second series of tire changes for the top drivers begins now, kicked off by Lewis Hamilton. Then, on lap 33 it is Mark Webber's turn, followed immediately by Nico Rosberg: the two re-enter the track ahead of Felipe Massa. After the stops made by Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean, on lap 37, the race is still led by the German driver of Red Bull Racing, ahead of Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Romain Grosjean. On lap 44 Lewis Hamilton passes Jean-Éric Vergne and climbs to seventh place, as does Fernando Alonso, who returns to the track after his second stop and passes Felipe Massa and the French driver, putting himself in seventh position. To make this overtake, the Spaniard's car jumps over a kerb, so much so that Alonso is taken to the medical center at the end of the race, as his body suffered 28G vertical deceleration in the impact. In the final laps, the Spaniard passes both Lewis Hamilton and Paul di Resta, moving up to fifth place. Sebastian Vettel wins for the seventh consecutive time, equaling the winning streak achieved by Michael Schumacher between the 2004 European and Hungarian Grand Prix and by Alberto Ascari between the 1952 Belgian Grand Prix and the 1953 Argentine Grand Prix. Mark Webber is second, followed by Nico Rosberg, Romain Grosjean, Fernando Alonso, Paul di Resta, Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Sergio Pérez and Adrian Sutil.


"Go slowly, there’s no need".


They say from the pit wall to Sebastian Vettel. The refrain was repeated endlessly at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where the German dominated far and wide. And where he flaunted an endless series of fast laps from start to finish, only to arrive at the checkered flag with a 30-second lead over poor Mark Webber. 


Poor Webber indeed, because despite starting from pole, the Australian was delayed once again by a technical problem, this time with KERS. Nico Rosberg is third, followed by Romain Grosjean - heroic as usual in the Lotus - and Fernando Alonso, author of a beautiful comeback race. The Spaniard, mounting soft tires in the last laps, completed a series of overtakes with such illustrious victims as Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes and Paul di Resta in the Force India. The Spaniard also sets the fastest lap, a meager consolation though because of the abysmal gap to Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull RB9. And Massa? Despite starting ahead of Alonso, he ended up only in P8, behind the Force India of Scotsman Paul di Resta and the Mercedes of Englishman Lewis Hamilton. But back to the star of the moment, Sebastian Vettel, who - already World Champion - takes home his 11th win of the season and number 37 in his career. But also his seventh consecutive victory, equaling Michael Schumacher's 2004 record. Record after record. This is the new Formula 1, now Formula Vettel or Formula Red Bull Racing: the choice is yours. The result is the same.


"Vettel is from another planet. I am trying to do my best but he is driving very well, it is a circuit in which he is very strong, it would have been nice to win, but Seb was better".


On the podium, Mark Webber honors his teammate, Sebastian Vettel, who won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix just ahead of him. 


"The start was not great. In the first stint I was not good enough on the softs, from there on the race went well for us".


Sebastian Vettel, on the other hand, thanks everyone.


"The car was amazing today; I thank all my team and Renault for their great work. I wanted to thank all the fans in the stands, we saw a lot of German flags these days, especially at Turn 11. It was important to have my parents here by my side this weekend. From them I learned many things. When I have children, I hope to be able to pass on the same values to them. I dedicate today's success to my parents. The tires? They are extremely sensitive, it's true; but now we control them well and are able to listen to them and go along with them".


While Nico Rosberg says:


"I'm very happy with third place today - it's a very positive result. Our goal was to place right behind the Red Bulls and we achieved that. I could have also finished second; but let's enjoy this podium. We keep second place in the constructors' standings and gain a few points on our pursuers. This is very important and not only in economic terms".


It is a classic end-of-season event. One wins, the others fight. The one who wins is, of course, Sebastian Vettel. Aboard his beautiful Heidi (known to everyone else as his RB9), the German took to the track as if the track were his own. Right in the center, in the bull's eye, the others all in the background. He lapped with elegance and power, as if his trajectories responded to a different logic than the others’, a private and mysterious physics. He showed the graces of his car with its Renault engine and Red Bull wings to all those rich people coming from Doha and Dubai in highly polished Ferraris and Porsches. He was half a minute from his teammate and a minute from the others, and then after the checkered flag (but he could have done it even earlier, given the advantage he had accumulated) he drove to an escape route, and while the others were finishing, he began to make the donuts that irritate the FIA. Shouts of joy over the radio, screeching of smoking tires, tire circles on the asphalt:


"This is for last year, this is for the year before, this is for the year before that, and this is for next year".


His engineer replies:


"I did the math, the FIA will fine you $125.000".


And Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner, who had just signed the check to pay the FIA’s fine for last week's jubilation in India, intervenes.


"And this time you're paying them yourself".


But the fine is the stuff of earthlings, not predestined drivers. Once is fine, the second time less so. So no fine. Just champagne (which here is fermented rosewater) and cheers of joy. Red Bull Racing Team’s great adventure began almost by accident ten years ago, when entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz, who in 1987 created the energy drink based on a Thai recipe (which ended up under indictment several times because it was deemed too euphoric), was looking for initiatives to sponsor in order to increase brand visibility, especially among young people. Reading that the former Jaguar plant in Milton Keynes, England, which had experienced a further shipwreck with the bankruptcy of the Jackie Stewart team, was for sale, he stepped in and took it over for little money. Here he had the stroke of genius: he entrusted it to Christian Horner, an experienced manager in the field, and then invested £300.000.000 and hired 1,000 engineers and technicians, turning the factory into a kind of engine clinic, where the most competitive cars in Formula 1 today are conceived, engineered and built in complete secrecy. Initially, the engines were from Ferrari, as was Adrian Newey, the technical director. At the end of 2006 Red Bull Racing accepted Renault's offer: the French team no longer intended to race with its own brand (a decision implemented in 2010) but offered its engines (which, after all, it did even when it raced on its own: the engines of Briatore and Schumacher's Benetton were Renault). This time, Williams, Lotus and Caterham also accepted along with Red Bull Racing, and they still run with engines from the French manufacturer. Red Bull Racing has experienced an increase in revenues and profits in recent years equal to Vettel’s, its standard-bearer: in 2012 it had a turnover of just over €300.000.000, 40% more than three years earlier, with an operating margin of just under half that figure. 


The largest item on the asset side is, not surprisingly, prize money; the prize money for results, 100.000.000, is almost double the amount collected from sponsorships. And this year, the fourth constructors' title in a row, will be even better. All while the already dismal race for second place - between Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus - is further saddened by bickering and chatter. The worst case was Lotus. Kimi Räikkönen is at odds with the team that is not paying him. In recent days he had threatened not to participate in the last races of the season. Forced to do so, yesterday he was the protagonist of a strange accident at the start. Not at all sorry, the Finn, Ferrari's new acquisition for 2014, did not even pass through the pits, parked his Lotus at the edge of the track, and left the racetrack in his rented car. Headed for the airport. More to come in Austin, perhaps: if Lotus - having looked at the telemetry - will be convinced that it was really an accident and will not decide instead to let someone else try out, someone who is intent on not screwing up an otherwise epic season. There is a much lower - but not less worrying - rate of litigiousness at Ferrari. Where things, fortunately, are much clearer, at least among the drivers. One stays and the other goes. The one who goes, Massa, felt penalized by the team's strategic choice to fit him for the last chunk of the race with medium tires instead of softs.


"It was a beautiful race, too bad we had a problem at the end with the second stop. First we decided to try with one stop, then we saw that the tires were wearing out and did a second one and put on the wrong tires, because we put on the medium and instead it should have been the soft, which gave more than a second a lap. It was a good performance and that is always important. The pace was good, good race too, too bad not to finish where we could".


Stefano Domenicali explains:


"He was supposed to do sixteen more laps, we had the doubt that he couldn't finish the race".


At the start, Massa had actually done 18 laps on another set of soft tires. So the team's choice appeared at least questionable. And indeed Massa debated it. But by now, the Brazilian is fast at the start, and that doesn't worry anyone. The remaining driver, on the other hand, is relieved. His was a great race, made up of overtakes on the limit and fast laps. In the end, his P5 guarantees that bit of much-needed points to keep the duel with Mercedes for second place open.


"In the sadness of the situation, I can say that I am happy. We have to attack as much as possible now. And not think about anything else. We had a difficult race ahead of us, with a lot of traffic, we tried to overtake as fast as we could and sometimes it went well and sometimes we lost time. But seeing that P4 has 20-30 seconds on us, even without traffic we couldn't do better than fifth place. We saved a difficult weekend, we have a Mercedes in front and one behind, I did my job and with Räikkönen's retirement we also contained the damage with Lotus".


The Spaniard, however, is under investigation for what happened with Vergne at the pit exit. 


"There you either become invisible or go off track, let's see what the stewards say".


Stefano Domenicali agrees: 


"This is not the time to cry but only to go fast".


Which is pretty hard to do, especially if you don't find a way to get the car going in qualifying as well. Starting 11th doesn't go far. Still, Domenicali is optimistic ahead of Ferrari's recovery of second place in the Constructors' Championship.


"Now we have two races where we have every chance to maintain the fight for second place. This is our goal and we are not giving up until the last corner. The problem is to start further ahead in qualifying because if you don't, your race is taken over by traffic. Being in the middle, you can't push all the time, so we know what we have to do".


On Alonso's contact with Vergne, the team principal points out that they are all very borderline situations:


"One is trying to keep the trajectory. When you're there, side by side, it's clear that the other driver doesn't want to let go and so he doesn't accept to give space to the other one who enters I think everything has to be considered in the normal course of a race".


Fernando Alonso's 2013 World Championship has been one of suffering, yet the Spaniard still has motivation and an ambition, that of reaching second place in the Drivers' World Championship standings, behind the unstoppable Sebastian Vettel.


"It is very difficult. I've been in F1 for 12 years, in addition to my years in the minor categories, and I've always given 120% in every race. Also, I have a lot of attention on me, a lot of expectations and in every race I try to see what I can do differently to improve the result and so I know that I always need to do more, and that is my motivation".


Second place among the drivers, perhaps along with second place in the World Constructors' Championship, would represent a success for Alonso:


"The main goal, it is now clear, is second place in the World Constructors' Championship. It is not the main goal, but it is still a good goal for us. Second in the Constructors' Championship will be a reward for me, knowing that we don't have the second fastest car, as we see every weekend. If I finish second among the drivers, it would be a bit of a personal victory. Obviously I race to win the world championship and finishing second would be very sad. On the other hand, from a personal point of view, it would be a very good result for how the season went. We need to do better. There were some weekends where it was not only Mercedes that worried us, also Lotus, and Nico Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso, McLaren; that showed that we had a drop, now we need to do better. The car will be the same in Austin and Brazil, so we can only improve on the track, in finding the best setup, optimizing it circuit by circuit. We drivers need to do better and do perfect laps all weekend, because we need to beat Mercedes".


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