GREATER NOIDA, India (Reuters) - Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso lost a race battle but looked forward to winning the championship war despite falling further behind Red Bull’s overall leader Sebastian Vettel after Sunday’s Indian Grand Prix.
Trailing Vettel by six points before landing in India, Alonso drove an aggressive race at the Buddh International Circuit to finish second - three places up from where he started but still behind winner Vettel.
It was, the Spaniard recognised, damage limitation with everything still to play for up to the final race in Brazil next month.
The gap, after Vettel’s fourth successive win, is now 13 points with three rounds to go.
“It’s not easy at the moment to fight with Red Bull but we will never give up. I think we are happy today, we have to congratulate them, they were fantastic this weekend so well done Red Bull, well done Sebastian,” said Alonso.
“But we want to be happy and we want to enjoy Brazil, not only here so I‘m sure we will do it.”
The Spaniard, the only top 10 driver to improve his grid position in Sunday’s race, said before the race that he was “100 percent confident” that he could win the title and he saw no reason to change that view afterwards.
“Of course,” he emphasised after notching up his 10th podium finish of the season.
The Spaniard, a double champion with Renault, said there was some room for improvement in the qualifications but he was pretty much in the hunt.
”We know that we need to improve. We are not fast enough, especially on Saturdays as I said, but hopefully we can improve the situation in Abu Dhabi or in the USA (next month).
“The races are long and as we saw today with (Red Bull‘s) Mark (Webber), a KERS problem can happen to anyone. It can happen to Seb, it can happen to me and it can happen to all of us. Still many points on the table and I‘m still very optimistic.”
Ferrari will have some updates in Abu Dhabi and Alonso should also go well in the season-ender.
“I think Brazil will be quite good for us and hopefully it’s a happy grand prix,” he said.
Team principal Stefano Domenicali predicted Alonso’s second place finish would keep his rivals worried and compared his driver’s chances to Italy winning the 1982 soccer World Cup against stronger opponents.
“This second place is all down to his talent, to his aggressive approach and the fact that he never wants to give up, backed by a team that is doing the maximum to give him a car that is worthy of him,” he said.
“Sure we leave India with a bigger gap to the leader of drivers’ championship than when we got here, but this race should not leave those who are ahead in a calm and relaxed mood,” added Domenicali.
Editing by Alan Baldwin