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    My life

    MY PRIORITY IS THE WORK ON THE TRACK

    The contrast between the cities of Sochi and Austin could not be more marked, but when it came to Fernando Alonso’s regular Thursday press meeting in the COTA paddock, the opening questions were identical to those the Ferrari man was asked at the Russian GP: in short, what are you doing next year? It was the usual game of cat and mouse between driver and journalists. “I know more or less what I’m doing next year,” admitted the Spaniard. “But for now my priority is the work on the track. There are a lot of things that can happen in the next races and we need to deliver good results because we are fighting in the Constructors’ championship. There is a massive push from the engineers, mechanics and everyone in the team to deliver good results. This is the first priority at the moment. My own future is very low priority at the moment in my opinion. As I said before, I will do what I think is best for my future and for Ferrari. But at the moment we have to concentrate on the competition to race on Sunday, giving my maximum, even if, with Jules’ situation, there is still something of a sad atmosphere here.”

    Asked if felt his chances of taking a third title were running out, Alonso took a philosophical viewpoint: “at the end of the day winning or not is a matter of being in the right place at the right moment” he concluded. “Getting respect sometimes has more value. When I joined Ferrari in 2009 I did not have the respect I have now. I have not won the championship these last five years, but, with Ferrari, I grew up as a driver and as a person. Definitely I want to win a third title and I’m sure I will have the opportunity.

    A REFLECTION OF THE WEEKEND AS A WHOLE

    ALO RUSIA GP 2014

    Today’s race followed the pattern set in the earlier part of a weekend in which we didn’t manage to be competitive, even if the car worked well from start to finish. The entire race was particularly demanding from the point of view of managing the fuel consumption and especially in the closing stages, I had to save fuel. During the pit stop, the front jack didn’t work, but I think that even without this problem, I’d have finished in the same position, because the McLarens were faster.

    We took a risk at the start because we knew it was an opportunity to make up some places, but after that, my race pace was what we’d seen to date and it wasn’t possible to do any more. We have not picked up many points, but we will continue to give it our all in the last three races, because third place in the Constructors’ championship is still a possibility, even if at the moment, the most important thing is to get some good news about Jules as soon as possible.”

    MIXING THINGS UP

    Alo Russia GP 2014

    “Today’s qualifying was more difficult than usual, or at least more complicated compared to the last two race weekends, when we had been able to fight with the front runners. So far here, we have not been competitive, even though the car seems okay and on the set-up front, we’ve changed almost nothing. We can’t single out any particular bad point because we are losing in all the sectors. The truth is just that the cars ahead of us were quicker.

    Here, the grip seems to improve with every lap and on top of that, reducing the pit lane speed to 60 km/h all points to a one-stop strategy. Even if the Safety Car could mix things up a bit, I think tomorrow, the start and the first corner could define the outcome of the race, and so we must prepare to tackle the early stages as well as possible.”

    #ForzaJules #raceForYou

    #ForzaJules #raceForYou

    LEARNING THE TRACK

    ALO RUSSIA GP 2014

    “The track is very unusual and I didn’t think that Formula 1 had already got such a large following here. Also surprising today was the good level of grip from the track surface, which is unusual on a brand new circuit. From this point of view, I felt comfortable right from the first lap and that helped a lot when it came to today’s most important job, namely learning the track. We worked a lot on set-up and found the two compounds had behaved in similar fashion and tyre performance improved as the laps went by. The track is very hard on brakes, but that is a specific thing we can work on this evening to be well prepared for qualifying.”

    IT'S GOING TO BE A THOUGH EMOTIONALLY

    Alo Rusia GP 2014

    Naturally, there was a sombre mood in today’s FIA press conference, just four days after an accident in the Japanese Grand Prix that left Marussia driver and Ferrari Driver Academy member Jules Bianchi in a serious condition, still in hospital in Japan. “It was a very tough race and obviously all our thoughts are with Jules,” began Fernando Alonso, one of the six panellists today. “We have a huge respect for our work, but with a big accident we can’t find the words to describe how we feel. Now we are here and this will also be a difficult weekend. I am ready to race, to race for him. And we will be as professional as we can, while our mind is with him and we are praying for him.”

    Indeed, the racing goes on and this weekend it’s at the brand new Sochi circuit. “It’s always a nice feeling coming to a new circuit and it’s a challenge for everyone, for the drivers, the engineers and the teams,” said the Spanish Ferrari driver. “But the feelings are still there, especially for our team, as we have been close to Jules for all his career. We will work as well as possible, we will race for him and show we are strong. It’s going to be tough emotionally.”

    Asked what lessons he felt could be learned from events in Suzuka last Sunday, Fernando felt it was too early to draw conclusions. “We must let the people do their work and as drivers we will share any ideas we have.” Bianchi’s accident also prompted a further question about the possibility of Formula 1 cars adopting a fighter-jet style of closed cockpit to reduce the risk of head injuries. “I agree we should at least try the idea,” said Fernando. “We are in 2014, we have the technology as we have seen in airplanes. Why not think about it then? The biggest accidents in motorsport in the last couple of years have been head injuries. In my case, in 2012, I could have died there in Corner 1, (at Spa-Francorchamps) if (the other car) had been ten centimetres closer to my head. If the technology is there, for sure I would not exclude it.”

    As for the rest of the season, with four races to go, Fernando agreed with a questioner that Ferrari is still aiming for the podium. “ We have been picking up the pace, being more and more competitive in these last events, but there have been lost opportunities. We will try our best in the remaining races. The team is in a state of shock with Jules and we are all worried for him, but it’s time to be united and deliver a good result. We will do it to show him respect, so let’s try this weekend.

    A SAD SUNDAY IN SUZUKA

    ALO JAPAN 2014

    “It was a real shame losing the opportunity to take part in this race because, with nothing to lose in terms of the championship, I could have taken a few more risks and maybe aimed for the podium. I still don’t know what caused the unfortunate technical problem, only that suddenly, the car lost all its electrics, maybe down to a short circuit caused by the rain. Now, in the four remaining races, the priority is still to pick up as many points as possible, because we are still aiming for third place in the Constructors’ classification. On that front, it could be good that we can count on using this engine which did hardly any distance today, thus not having to use a new one which would mean starting one of the remaining races from the pit lane. However, the only good news we want right now relates to Jules Bianchi. I hope that we hear very soon that he’s alright.”

    A GOOD FEELING

    ALO JAPON GP 2014

    “I’ve often ended up fifth in qualifying, but I think that today’s result can be seen in a different light as I enjoyed myself a lot out on track, both in the quick parts and the slower ones. So far, this weekend has been very positive as I had a good feeling from the car right from the first lap of free practice. Unfortunately, the typhoon expected tomorrow is creating a bit of tension, because over the past two days, we haven’t done any wet running and having to do the opening lap of the race itself in the rain always complicates matters.

    Currently, we don’t know how much rain we can expect, so all we can do is prepare for a difficult race, because Suzuka is a circuit where, even in the dry, incidents can occur and it’s easy to make mistakes. I think that later today, the race director might take a decision regarding this, with the possibility of bringing the race forward.”

    A BIT UNLUCKY

    Fernando Alonso Singapore 2014

    With hindsight, it’s easy to ask oneself how things would have gone if I hadn’t made a mistake at the start and the Safety Car hadn’t come out when it did, but overall I’m pleased with this weekend, because we were competitive and were able to fight with the front runners. Sometimes, a Safety Car can help but I think that today on this front, we were a bit unlucky, because at that moment, we were trying to make sure of second place and our strategy was good. We didn’t have much of an alternative, because if we had stayed out, the probability was that the stop for the Softs would have cost us more places. Even if in the end, I wasn’t able to get past, the fact we were competitive right to the finish confirms we have made a step forward. Now, in Suzuka, a real circuit, we will have a clearer picture of where we are

    A LAW UNTO ITSELF

    Fer singapore

    If you had told me yesterday that we would still be competitive in qualifying, probably I wouldn’t have believed it. And in fact this fifth place is a bit different to usual, because the gap to pole is really small. This weekend, I’ve felt comfortable right from the first session and probably much of that is down to the characteristics of the track. It’s impossible to compare it to other races, because this one and Monaco are a law unto themselves. But definitely, we have made a step forward since the start of the season and I’m sure the car will continue to improve right the way to the end. Tomorrow’s race will be long and very demanding from a mechanical point of view. Reliability will play a key role as will tyre management, which could make a big difference.

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