Alonso unfazed by Ferrari's speed at Indy
|By Jonathan Noble||Sunday, July 2nd 2006, 13:05 GMT|
World champion Fernando Alonso was unfazed by Ferrari's dominance in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix, the Spaniard expecting his Renault team to resume business as usual in Magny Cours in two weeks.
Michael Schumacher leads an all-Ferrari front row for today's race at Indianapolis, taking pole position with a lap time over a second faster than Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella - and over 1.5 seconds ahead of Alonso, who lines up fifth.
And Renault's team boss Flavio Briatore has admitted the French team are not expecting to challenge for a win at the American track, after winning in dominant fashion the last four consecutive Grands Prix.
But Alonso has downplayed Ferrari's form, saying they are enjoying an advantage unique to the Indianapolis track, and said he expects his Renault team to resume their dominance in the next round, at the French Grand Prix.
Asked if he was worried by Ferrari's pace, Alonso said: "No. It will be back to normal at Magny Cours.
"We cannot be so optimistic after Canada, and so pessimistic after qualifying at Indianapolis - we have to take a more general look at the championship. We have been more competitive [than Ferrari], so the rest of the season should be the same."
Alonso further downplayed suggestions that Ferrari's pace at Indy is down to a tyre advantage, pointing out that the Michelin runners were still ahead of the Bridgestone-shod cars, other than Ferrari.
"We have a good tyre - we easily beat Toyota and Williams and the other Bridgestone runners," Alonso said. "We cannot beat Ferrari because their car is just so quick on the straight.
"So the Bridgestone tyre is not better than the Michelin - it's the Ferrari car that is good for the characteristics of Indy."
Alonso said his target for today's race was to simply finish the race - scoring as many points as possible, to limit the dent Schumacher could make in the Spaniard's 25-point lead in the championship standing.
"I need to score points, I need to finish the race; that is what we need to do," Alonso said. "I think we are pretty sure we cannot win, so we have to start to find the best place possible for us [in the end of the race], and we may be third or fourth, but no more than that this weekend."
Finally, Alonso said he was not worried by teammate Fisichella's pace, after the Italian beat the Spaniard in qualifying, and claimed Fisichella's advantage was down to set-up and a new engine.
"I think he was comfortable on this track, and he had a good set-up from the beginning," Alonso said. "I probably had to work a bit more on the set-up, and probably I didn't find a good enough [set-up] to beat him.
"He was quick. He has a new spec engine that I will have in Magny Cours, so it was a help here for him in Indy."