YEONGAM, South Korea (AFP) –
Championship leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari said on Thursday ahead of the Korean Grand Prix that the title race was still wide open, warning Lewis Hamilton remains a threat.
Alonso saw his lead over the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel slashed to just four points in Japan last week when the Spaniard was forced out moments after the start with a puncture, leading some to suggest it was now a two-horse race.
With five grand prix to go, Alonso has 194 points, Vettel 190, Kimi Raikkonen 157 and Hamilton of McLaren 152.
Speaking at a press conference in Yeongam, Alonso confessed he did not know how far Hamilton was behind. Told it was more than 40 points — there are 25 points for a race win — he said: “It’s more difficult but it’s not over.
“For sure the chance is a little bit lower, but the form of McLaren and Lewis before Suzuka means they still have a possibility.”
Hamilton, who will move to Mercedes next year, finished fifth in Japan to keep his championship hopes just about alive.
Despite having Vettel breathing hard down his neck, Alonso said there was no reason to panic.
“We all need some points this weekend. It’s the same for everyone. We’ve been pushing from the first week and nothing changes now. We need to keep doing the same things.”
He added: “I remain confident we will be competitive. We’ve been more or less competitive the last eight or 10 races. We’ve not been the fastest, but we are in position.”
Vettel, who has stormed into contention after victory in the last two races in Singapore and Suzuka, echoed Alonso’s sentiments.
“We should be reasonably competitive here,” said the German. “But this year has been very unpredictable. We will try our best to get a very strong result.
“It’s been fairly up and down for all of us. We’ve seen this year a lot of cars that can surprise.
“There’s more than one or two cars that can win. It’s been the story of the championship, it’s been up and down and things can change quickly.”
Hamilton, who did not finish in Singapore, before Japan, because of a technical fault, said: “It should have been 35 points (from those two races) but that’s racing and there are still 125 points to go.
“We’ve got to keep pushing and concentrating on those 125 points that are left. You have to make your own luck in this business.
“We are still in it (the championship) and we are still fighting.”