Subdued Fernando Alonso admits that predicting a podium in Spain would be "a lie"
Spaniard cautions against any repeat of a Shanghai repeat on Sunday
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 07/11/19 3:43pm
A starkly-honest Fernando Alonso has admitted that it would be "a lie" to predict another podium for Ferrari in this weekend's Spanish GP.
The Spaniard, who will be racing in his home grand prix at Barcelona on Sunday, finished third in last month's Chinese GP prior to the sport's springtime mini-break. Yet Alonso, who crossed the line in Shanghai over twenty seconds adrift of Mercedes' victorious Lewis Hamilton, has cautioned against any expectation of a top-three repeat at the Circuit de Catalunya.
"We will try our best but we are expecting a tough weekend," admitted Alonso. "Today, sitting here, if tell you that I will fight for the podium then I will probably lie and I do not want to do that.
"We need to do very special weekends to be on the podium and China was one of those - lucky and some other factors. Arriving here, sitting here on the Thursday in the next press conference, repeating a podium would be unbelievable."
Such was the austerity of Alonso's realism that, despite being far and away the principal focus of attention during the conference, none of the assembled press corps dared to ask the Spaniard how he would rate his chances of winning the race. A year has passed since Alonso, still regarded by many as the best driver in the sport, last celebrated victory, with any hopes of a sudden breakthrough this weekend all-but ruled out by the two-times World Champion.
"China was a boost for the team, but we are not in a position to be happy with. Mercedes are dominating with good margins and we are tying to get closer and closer. To do that, we need to make bigger steps than the other teams are making. Now we have to wait and see.
"We are bringing new parts but nothing out of this world and I don't think this will be different to any of the top teams. Track characteristics will be the biggest help here."
So much for the anticipated fireworks between Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen this season, with the struggling Finn - fifty seconds behind his team-mate in Shanghai - unable to get to grips with the difficult F14 T and Ferrari already over one hundred points behind runaway leaders Mercedes in the Constructors' Championship.
"We have to be realistic with the position we have. We won't give up. There's a big gap in performance and in points but there's a long way to go in the championship and we must do anything we can to close that gap and become competitive," added Alonso. "But that won't happen between one race and the next one. It will be a slow recovery.
"We are in a moment in the championship that will tell us many, many things. But we need to deliver if we are to become a threat to Mercedes."