Q & A with Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso came into the Abu Dhabi weekend with an eight-point championship lead, but ended up losing the world title to Sebastian Vettel after a wrong strategic call saw the Spaniard stuck down in seventh, three places away from his target position

Q & A with Fernando Alonso

Afterwards the crestfallen Alonso spoke to the press about why Ferrari chose to pit Alonso so early, how the decision affected his race and why even though he lost the title this was still a good season for him and the Scuderia. AUTOSPORT was there to hear what he had to say.

Q. How are you feeling now? Are you disappointed?

Fernando Alonso: "Yeah, it's a sad feeling now, just half an hour after the race. But there is nothing we can do now. The race didn't go as we wanted. At the start we were hoping that the McLarens would overtake [Sebastian] Vettel, but this time [Jenson] Button started very well but not [Lewis] Hamilton. We were in a good position at that point, then there was the safety car.

"First [Vitaly] Petrov made the decision to stop, which was a little bit unexpected and then [Mark] Webber stopped very early as well, so we found ourselves needing to protect from either Webber or Petrov, so we decided to cover Webber and we exited the pits in front of him and at the end, that was maybe not the right thing, but it's always very easy to see the strategy after the race.

"But now there is nothing we can change and someone did a better job than us and they have more points at the end of the championship so, congratulations to them."

Q. What about Petrov during the race?

FA: "Well, our F-duct was working okay, but the Renault was very quick on the straights and we knew from yesterday that they run less rear wing than us as the Renaults were very quick in sector two and not so quick in the last sector, but in the course of the race it was enough to protect the position."

Q. Is this your lowest point of the year?

FA: "It's been an interesting season, with some up and downs for everybody. I think for us it was a good year, first year of the relationship with Ferrari - for the last few years I've been fighting to be in Q3 and now I've finally been fighting for the world championship once more. I've taken five victories this year which puts me ahead of Niki Lauda and Juan Manuel Fangio, which is very special as I never thought I'd achieve so much on this list.

"Over the course of the year there were some good and bad moments. The best was Monza, while the worst was Monaco without being able to do qualifying. I will remember this year for a long time and despite the final result, we've been fighting for the drivers' championship until the last race with the third quickest car, as we are third in the constructors' championship, I'm very proud of this and the job the team has done and our approach to the last part of the year.

"We had engine problems in the first part so we were very limited with engines from race four onwards and we managed to fight for the championship to the last lap of the last race. Overall I think that we did our best."

Q. Did you expect Vettel would win the title today?

FA: "I think the championship was between three contenders. I think it was more difficult for Hamilton - but between the two Red Bulls, Vettel was the most dangerous. He was normally the quickest and if they were first and second as they usually are in the race then it would be a risk for us if Vettel was in front - then the McLarens were quick here and we found ourselves behind them."

Q. Was there a chance that you could not have pitted when the team asked you to?

FA: "I didn't have time to think, I saw that Webber stopped and Felipe stopped as well and Webber was gaining time so for us it was a choice that we had to make. We either decide to pit and stay in front of Webber, or not stop and he gets in front of us. So for sure we can see at the end of the race, that maybe if we stayed out like Button, it was enough. You never know if the soft tyres are going to degrade a lot more, then we could have overtaken more cars."

Q. Will you be more determined to come back stronger next year?

FA: "Definitely much stronger - this year I tested seven days before Bahrain and I arrived not knowing entirely what all the buttons on the steering wheel did, not knowing the names of the mechanics and the engineers. It was only around the time of the fifth or sixth race that I felt more comfortable. Now I feel very comfortable here and we'll start next year feeling a lot more confident. Next year we'll start from a good position. I think that as we fight for the championship at the last race with the third quickest car - there's no doubt we'll be right up there next year."

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