Tuesday 30 May 2017

F1: Alonso still confident Ferrari can get back on title track

Tom Cary at Hockenheim

FORMULA ONE will witness a resumption of hostilities at Hockenheim this afternoon. Somebody with a sense of humour at the FIA, the sport's governing body, arranged an all-German line-up in the traditional Thursday press conference -- which features home favourites Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel -- and then, almost as an afterthought, threw Mark Webber into the mix.

The Australian's interaction, or lack thereof, with his Red Bull team-mate and alleged 'No 1' Vettel is sure to make amateur psychologists of scores of journalists.

But Red Bull's ongoing civil war is far from the sport's only compelling story right now. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton admits he is getting concerned about his inability to shake off second-placed Jenson Button, who lies 12 points behind his McLaren team-mate, despite having been out-driven for the last three months.

The wisdom of Michael Schumacher's return at the age of 41 is likely to be pored over at this 120,000-capacity circuit where he has triumphed three times.

SPOTLIGHT

It is a team who are not in the spotlight, for all the wrong reasons, who are under the most pressure, however.

Ferrari have suffered a hugely frustrating season. The one-two at the season-opener in Bahrain seems an awfully long time ago and, with Fernando Alonso trailing Hamilton by 47 points in the standings, realistically the Spaniard needs to win one of the next two races before the August break if he is to feature in the title run-in. Felipe Massa's season is already over.

Failure to resurrect the campaign could prove terminal for team principal Stefano Domenicali, one of the nicest people in the paddock, but a man now under serious pressure. It escaped no one's notice that Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo attended the last post-race post-mortem.

Despite producing improved pace in the last three grands prix, Ferrari only have Alonso's third place in Canada to show for their gains, having been compromised by safety cars in Valencia and Britain.

Alonso claims spirit in the camp is good. "After the two bad races people are even more motivated than before because they feel we deserve a good race. We need to take the maximum from our car, do two or three podiums in a row, and I'm sure with the new points system we can be in the fight for the championship very soon." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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