Red Bull Rivals Appear Ready to Write Off F1 Title
Red Bull rivals appear ready to write off F1 title.
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VALENCIA: Red Bull’s championship rivals McLaren and Ferrari are nearly ready to write off the Formula One title following runaway leader Sebastian Vettel’s sixth victory of the season in theEuropean Grand Prix on Sunday.
The defending F1 champion stretched his overall lead to 77 points over McLaren’s Jenson Button and teammate Mark Webber, who finished third along Valencia’s street circuit.
Vettel has won eight of the last 10 races stretching into last season, with Red Bull dominating qualifying in that time by starting first in 23 of 27 races.
“It’s finished really, in the sense of the championship it’s almost over already,” McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton said after coming fourth. The British driver is fourth overall, 89 points behind Vettel.
Alonso said splitting the Red Bulls was an achievement – but beating them was still unlikely.
“The championship is not in our calculations, it’s not in our hands,” the two-time world champion said after finishing runner-up for the second time in three races. “We have to go race-by-race and wait for some mistakes from Red Bull. The points difference is a lot so it’s not in our hands.
“If anyone thinks we can win the championship being eight-tenths behind (Red Bull) they don’t understand Formula One.”
Alonso blamed poor winter development for putting Ferrari on the back foot coming into the new season.
“We are a couple of months behind,” Alonso said, though recent improvements offered hope despite Red Bull’s superiority.
“Without looking at changing our ambitions, we have to go race-by-race and then see if we can pressure (Vettel),” Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said. “Hopefully Valencia can be a point of reference for the future.”
Alonso is 10 points behind Hamilton who, alongside Button, is the only other race winner this season.
“I don’t look at the (points) gap, it’s a long season,” said Vettel, who finished second in the two races he didn’t win. “We’ve had a phenomenal season and we have to continue that way, that’s our target. The target is still to win races.
“I don’t look at the scoreboard much – you always need to take last year as an example,” said Vettel, who needed victories in the last two races to clinch his first F1 title despite Red Bull’s dominance.
Hamilton’s skepticism wasn’t helped by his McLaren’s performance, which both team drivers agreed had definitely not improved since Montreal where Button won.
“It seems as if we’ve taken a step backward in terms of performance,” said 2008 F1 champion Hamilton, who complained of a lack of downforce. “I think in the next race we’ll really struggle. I’m not looking forward to it, I’m really not looking forward to it.”
Button called on McLaren to provide something extra for the July 10 British GP at Silverstone, where the high speed corners favour Red Bull.
“New parts are coming but we need to take some risks,” said Button, who knows the payoff from a dominating start as the British driver won six of the first seven races in 2009 on his way to the title.