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Saturday, April 20, 2024

F1 title favourite? Not me: Fernando Alonso

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS: Fernando Alonso shrugged off the mantle of Formula One favourite on Thursday despite a 40-point cushion in the championship and being only a race away from a record-equalling 24 successive scoring finishes.

Fernando Alonso

The favourite of the bookmakers, and many paddock regulars, refused to see the situation through their betting eyes as the travelling circus returned from its August break for the Belgian Grand Prix.With nine races remaining, and only two in Europe, the Ferrari driver played down his chances by saying his car was far from the fastest.”Two or three bad races can make you lose everything,” the Spaniard, the only driver to have won three races this season, said.”In terms of performance, I think of the contenders or the guys who are at the front we are clearly the slowest,” added Alonso, who leads Red Bull’s Australian Mark Webber by 40 points.”We have a points advantage, a performance disadvantage so I don’t think we are any favourites.”Alonso has enjoyed astonishing consistency, finishing in the points in every race since Canada in June last year.If he ends Sunday’s race in the top 10, he will have equalled the record run of 24 set by seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher with the same Italian team between 2001 and 2003.A continuation of the sequence will make it increasingly hard for his rivals to claw back Alonso’s advantage, with the sequence of long-haul races also likely to reduce the pace at which developments can be brought to the cars.Even if Alonso has never won a Formula One race at Spa, his rivals took his declaration as little more than light entertainment.”He is leading so he is (the favourite),” said Red Bull’s double world champion Sebastian Vettel, 42 points adrift of the Spaniard. “He is not leading just because someone wrote a cheque and gave him the amount of points.”I think he deserves to lead. If you look at the beginning of the season, starting at winter testing, Ferrari had a lot of criteria (issues). And then I think they got their act together, built a very competitive car and have been very competitive in all circumstances and conditions.”McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, five points behind Vettel in fourth place overall, agreed that it all looked like a smokescreen.”He said that? He would say that, wouldn’t he?,” the Briton replied with some amazement when asked whether he felt the Ferrari was the slowest car of the front-runners.”He’s just positioning himself in a nice way. I am going to say the same thing,” smiled Hamilton. “My car is definitely the slowest out of the top four teams. So we’ll see what we can do with it.”Reuters

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