Alonso Proud to Fight Raikkonen

Championship leader Fernando Alonso says Kimi Raikkonen is Formula One's man to beat at the moment and he is proud to be fighting the Finn for the title

The Spanish Renault driver has 77 points with his McLaren rival 26 points behind him in second place. The pair have won eight of the 11 races between them.

"He's a great driver and I'm very proud to be fighting with him, he's probably the best one on the grid and so to fight with him is much better than to fight with some other names," Alonso said at the German Grand Prix on Thursday.

"I've known him since 1997 or 1998 when we raced in karts and it's always been a good relationship with no real problems.

"As with all Formula One drivers, we don't have a great many conversations, but still there's a lot of respect for each other."

"He was two years older than me so we were always in different categories and only raced once or twice. But as we were in Italy he stood out because of his blond hair," said the 23-year-old.

Alonso said it had not been easy to build up such a large lead over Raikkonen once McLaren had sorted out their early season problems with the car.

"After three years with McLaren he knows the team perfectly, he knows the car, he knows the tyres," said the Spaniard.

"Together they have been very strong all season and now to arrive at the last part, fighting with him is very hard for me, it's been a struggle."

Engine Failures

Raikkonen has been hit by engine failures in practice for the last two races, which have lost him 10 places on the starting grid. Alonso felt it could have been a lot worse for his rival.

"If you have to have a problem like that, then every driver would be happy to end up with a second and third place," he said.

Despite the superior pace of Raikkonen's McLaren, Alonso said he thought Renault could still win races, even if good points finishes in the remaining eight rounds would certainly win him the world title.

"We need to do our job," he said. "They've had the best package since Imola but they haven't won all the races. We've won about the same since then.

"In Formula One you need the best package, you need the luck, you have to be professional, you have to manage the races, the qualifying.

"I think even if they do have the best package, which we all know, we are not so slow and at some races we can fight for the victory. Budapest will be better but Hockenheim could also be good for us."

Sunday's race is a home one for Ferrari's World Champion Michael Schumacher, one of the 'other names' Alonso alluded to.

"We always approach the weekend thinking about winning the race but sometimes we have to be realistic and at the moment McLaren are the team to beat," added the Spaniard.

"So if we can't win the race then we have to minimise the problem and the points will be good for me as well. Hopefully this will be a good weekend for us."

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