Date:Monday November 19 2012
Fernando Alonso did all he could in the inaugural Texas US Grand Prix to keep the Formula One championship battle alive until the final race of the season.
Once again, as has been for the majority of races this season his Ferrari just didn't have the out and out pace to compete for the race victory in America.
This was highlighted throughout practice and qualifying when the Spaniard, who now sits second in the standings after leading the majority of the season, couldn't get near the pace of Red Bull.
On a very green and dusty circuit, Alonso was over two seconds slower than Vettel in FP1, Vettel still held seven tenths advantage at the end of Friday's running in FP2.
On Saturday that advantage remained static throughout FP3, whilst in qualifying the gap was back up to nearly two seconds with Alonso qualifying in ninth place.
“We never managed to put together the best lap, which on these tyres and with these track conditions is always the last one you do. We knew it would be a complicated weekend but clearly today we were too slow and we will start from too far back. Alonso told formula1.com.
Grosjean's gearbox penalty moved Alonso up to eighth and onto the dirty side of the track for the grid. So it was a wonderful bonus for Ferrari when conveniently Felipe Massa opted to also change his gearbox to suffer a five place grid penalty, bumping Alonso up to seventh on the grid and crucially onto the clean side of the track.
Not exactly in the spirit of competition, but since when has that ever existed in Formula One?
It proved to be a master stroke with Alonso capitalising on a good start to leap up into fourth place.
Every single driver on the dirty side of the track lost at least one place on the opening lap.
On lap 17 there was more good fortune for Alonso as Mark Webber was forced to retire, he had already lost KERS and then an alternator failure left him without power and out of the race, bumping Alonso up into third place.
The Ferrari didn't have the pace required to challenge either Hamilton or Vettel at the front of the race, so with Massa behind him Alonso settled for third.
It would prove to be Alonso's twelfth podium finish of the season, his sixth in seven races and with former McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton taking the victory ahead of Vettel, it means that the Spaniard only lost three points to Vettel leaving the championship alive going into the final race of the 2012 Formula One World Championship.
“It was an unexpected podium which came at the end of a particularly difficult weekend. We did not have the pace to match Red Bull and McLaren, so to only lose three points to Vettel is in fact a nice present. It could have been much worse, but now we will arrive in Sao Paolo in Brazil in with a chance right to the last. Maybe on paper that chance is not so big, maybe 25 percent, but deep down, I feel it’s much more than that. Anything can happen at Interlagos and we saw again how important reliability can be, didn’t we? Then, there’s the chance of rain and a race in the wet can be very risky and we definitely have nothing to lose.
F1 Drivers World Championship
1. Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull- 273
2. Fernando Alonso - Ferrari - 260 (-13)
If Alonso wins the race in Brazil, for Vettel to take still take the championship, he needs to finish fourth or higher.
If Alonso finishes second, Vettel will only need to finish seventh or higher.
Another third place finish for Alonso and Vettel will need to finish no lower than ninth.
If Alonso fails to make the podium, Sebastian Vettel is crowned 2012 World Champion.
Date:Monday November 19 2012
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