Fernando Alonso: “This will be another Tough Weekend”

The Scuderia Ferrari team arrive in Germany this weekend expecting another tough weekend around the Hockenheim track. Spaniard Fernando Alonso has won three times at the circuit – in 2010 and 2012 for Ferrari and in 2005 for Benetton. Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen has a best finish of third at Hockenheim – in 2012 for Lotus and 2006 with McLaren.

Alonso is expecting another tough weekend in Germany as hot temperatures and the softest two compounds of Pirelli tyre usually result in some struggles for pace. He remains confident of closing the gap to Red Bull Racing in second place in the championship while also holding back the Mercedes-powered Williams and McLaren teams that are showing signs of strong mid-season pace.

“Being realistic, this will be another tough weekend, with hot temperatures and running the Soft and Supersoft tyres automatically means tyre management will be necessary in these temperatures,” said Alonso. “In past races where it was hot, we were not so competitive. Here we have some new parts and hopefully they will bring us some performance.

“Our target is to beat some of our main competitors from second to fifth in the Constructors’ championship, where it is very tight and will be to the very end of the season. We need to reduce the gap to Red Bull and increase it if we can to Williams and McLaren, that are becoming very strong. I think it will be interesting. I have won three times at Hockenheim, twice at the Nurburgring [European GPs] every time we come to Germany we seem to have a good weekend, so let’s hope we continue that trend this weekend.”

There have been a lot of rumours in recent weeks about the Spaniards future at Ferrari, but he was quick to throw some cold water on the flames, insisting that he has not been in contact with any other team and all his focus is on Ferrari.

“Every year now I get asked this question in July, maybe since I started in 2003,” said Alonso with a smile. “I haven’t talked with any other team and it’s not my priority. We have to score some good points this weekend and get some good results this year.”

Team-mate Raikkonen feels recovered from his massive first lap crash at Silverstone and is ready to get back behind the wheel. He believes the crash was quite possibly the biggest of his career, but the Finn downplayed it as ‘unfortunate’.

“[It was] probably [the biggest crash of my career], and hopefully there won’t be too many more,” said Raikkonen. “It hurt, but sometimes it’s the really slow accidents when you can get badly hurt. The Silverstone crash was just unfortunate, it was nothing serious and just part of this sport.

“I had some pain afterwards, not so much in my leg, but more in my ribs,” he revealed. “That was why I did not drive in the [post-Silverstone] test, but it’s all fine now.”

Question marks have hung over Raikkonen’s commitment and speed this season, but the Finn believes his season will turn around at some point to show his true speed, and is not worried about his future in the sport where he is under contract with Ferrari until the end of 2015.

“I believe the situation will turn around at some point, as it can’t go on much longer like this,” insisted Raikkonen. “It’s true it’s no fun, but we have been in this situation before and always managed to turn it around. I strongly believe we can fix the issues and be back where we should be. How soon? I hope quickly but I am not worried about my future.”

Test driver Pedro de la Rosa took Raikkonen’s place in the test, and was delighted to get some time behind the wheel of the current Ferrari having been responsible for most of the simulator work so far this year. He is hopeful that the development work the team continue to carry out on the car helps them improve, but admits the team are also working on the 2015 car alongside the 2014 upgrades.

“It was fantastic to be back in the car, it was such a rush,” said de la Rosa. “It was an important opportunity to actually drive the real car from the point of view of correlating the results from the simulator and the track to see that all the work we are doing in the simulator is correct. Car handling, power delivery, so many things are different from when I used to race. That’s why it’s so important to have these test days for the F1 test drivers like me that do a lot of simulator work.

“We learned a lot in Silverstone, carrying out a steady development programme. Race by race we are improving and we are not giving up on this year, even if we are also thinking already about 2015.”