Title contenders already practising for title ‘match point’

Title protagonists Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso have headed straight from Abu Dhabi to their respective driver simulators.

“It should be a relax day,” said Ferrari’s Spaniard Alonso on Facebook, “but change (of) plan, simulator session now.”

Alonso finished second in Abu Dhabi, reducing his points deficit to Red Bull’s dominant title leader Sebastian Vettel to 10 points, with just Austin and Brazil now to go.

“Alonso can still win,” former F1 driver Patrick Tambay told France’s RMC Sport. “It will be tough to beat Sebastian Vettel, but Alonso is mentally very tough, intelligent. And he also puts pressure in both directions.”

Agreed Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko: “Alonso is the champion in the political ring, and unfortunately he can also be the same on the track.

“We will not do him any favours by attending to his political games. That’s not our style. We focus on what’s important — to be fast.”

Polls in Spanish sports newspapers AS (40,000 voters) and Marca (30,000 voters) said readers think Alonso has a 45 per cent and 49 per cent chance respectively of beating Vettel to the chequered flag.

Alonso is quoted by Switzerland’s Blick: “When your competitor climbs from last place to the podium next to you, then it is clear that we are fighting against the best car.

“But we have the better team.”

Bild newspaper said that, like Alonso, Vettel will also be hard at work on the simulator this week, ahead of next weekend’s US grand prix at the brand new Austin track.

The German will reportedly be at Red Bull’s Milton Keynes factory on Wednesday and Thursday.

“I like new tracks, a new challenge,” said Vettel. “And so far I’ve heard nothing but good about Austin.”

Jaime Alguersuari, the Pirelli test driver, said America will be a big challenge for both title protagonists.

“A new track is not easy for anyone, especially for those who are playing for a championship,” he told Mundo Deportivo newspaper.


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