By Shrikant Shankar at BIC
Alonso’s lead at the driver’s championship summit was overturned by Sebastian Vettel at the Korean Grand Prix two weeks ago, and now his chances of winning a third title looks like slipping out of his hands.
At the Buddh International Circuit on Saturday, the Ferrari ace qualified fifth ahead of teammate Felipe Massa who finished sixth.
Red Bull showed their dominance as Vettel earned his 35th career pole position ahead of teammate Mark Webber. They were followed by McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button respectively.
Despite finding himself behind at the third row of the grid and six points adrift of Vettel in the driver’s championship, Alonso was satisfied with Ferrari’s showing. “Fifth place is not so bad because it could have been easy to end up even further back if anything had gone wrong,” he said.
“Clearly our aim is to finish ahead of Red Bull, but today it was impossible to fight them, at least in qualifying. I am not concerned or demotivated, because I know that things can change very quickly and that high spirits on Saturday can easily turn to sadness on Sunday.”
Watch: Vettel takes Indian Grand Prix pole... More Videos
The Spaniard also said that the start of the race will be very important. “We must try and make up places on the first lap and put pressure on our main rivals. There are 60 laps to work with and we will need to tackle each one as if it’s qualifying, by attacking,” he added.
Ferrari did however rise to second in the constructor’s championship in Korea above McLaren. They are six points ahead of the Woking-based team and key to that has been Massa’s resurgence of late. The Brazilian has finished with points in the last six races.
Massa was upbeat with his performance but said that it could have been even better. “I am reasonably pleased with sixth place, even if maybe, I could have started from further forward,” he said.
He added saying: “In qualifying Red Bull is faster and McLaren was only just ahead of us. In the races, things are a bit different and we hope we can fight with these four cars for the top places.”
“Today, it wasn’t easy to put together the perfect lap, partly because the track surface was still quite slippery. We need to be focused because it will be a very long race,” he concluded.