SUZUKA, Japan (AFP) –
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso admitted he’d been pitched into a “mini-championship” after a mistake from Kimi Raikkonen shattered his big lead in the Formula One standings.
The 31-year-old Spaniard, the champion in 2005 and 2006, said he had no idea what Raikkonen was doing when he hit his rear wheel on the first corner at the Japanese Grand Prix, sending him out with a puncture just seconds into the race.
And Alonso said the title fight was very much between him and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who won at Suzuka to draw just four points behind with five races left.
“I think one time I will retire, maybe next time Vettel will retire, you never know. That’s motorsport,” said Alonso.
“It’s five races to go. It will be like a mini-championship because we start with the same points and we need to score one point more (than him) in five races. So we will try to do it.”
He added: “We have five races and they will be like five finals, five championships — a big fight every time now.”
Alonso also criticised Lotus’s Raikkonen, who is third in the standings, for the collision on the first bend.
“I had no space on the right, I had Button I think on my left, I had Kimi… and I don’t understand why Kimi didn’t lift off or anything because there was not any room,” he said.
“I don’t know what Kimi’s idea was for the first corner, but that is the way it is and this time it was bad luck for us.”
Alonso has led the championship since the European Grand Prix at Valencia in June, but he has seen his advantage diminish in recent races.
He said Ferrari had not introduced any successful updates on their car for the last six races and were suffering for lack of competitive pace, although his team-mate Felipe Massa finished second.
“Felipe did a perfect race, driving well, but there are cars which are a lot faster making one mistake after another and that has helped Felipe today,” he said.