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SILVERSTONE: Fresh from climbing to the top of the drivers’ standings on his home soil two weeks ago, Fernando Alonso will seek to establish himself as a clear leader by repeating his 2011 victory in Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
The 30-year-old Spaniard, who is bidding to become the youngest triple world champion in F1 history, took advantage of others’ failings in the European Grand Prix at Valencia, but this time hopes he can steer his Ferrari to a decisive victory.
If he does win, he will be the first man this year to win three races, leaving six others stuck on one win each as the closest opening period of any F1 season conjures up more unexpected and unpredictable racing.
Alonso has been wary to make predictions this week following a factory visit by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and a warning against any complacency.
But teammate Felipe Massa said he believed, as do many, that the Silverstone race could reveal which team is in the best shape to mount a serious title bid in the high European season and the return leg of the 20-race calendar.
“It’s difficult to have a clear picture of how competitive we should be,” said Massa. “Especially this year, we have seen results in the races that we could never have expected.
“Silverstone is a very different track to the last few, so we need to be ready for everything and arrive as well prepared as possible.
“Who knows, maybe Silverstone can be even better than expected for us, but if you look at Valencia, where we had 13 cars within three-tenths (of a second) in Q2, it shows you really cannot make predictions this season.”
“However, we believe our car is not too bad in the high speed corners and so I feel we should discover a good F2012 when we start practice today.”
In a week of tragedy that has seen Marussia test driver 32-year-old Spanish woman Maria De Villota crash heavily and lose her right eye, Formula One will also be using the Silverstone weekend as an opportunity to assess many issues for the future – including driver safety, circuit security and, most of all, proposals to keep costs under control.
Lewis Hamilton, who has suffered from a series of pit-lane errors this year, endured one in Valencia that lasted more than 14 seconds, but McLaren sporting director Sam Michael asserted that their problems were over.
“We identified why that failed and the design has been modified,” said Michael.
“On Monday this week, we completed 80 pit-stops on the jacking systems with no faults at all.”
Michael suggested rivals Red Bull are not about to dominate the next few races, as many observers fear after seeing Sebastian Vettel pull away in Valencia before being forced to retire.
“Valencia hasn’t been a track that we have traditionally been very good at, but if you look at Silverstone, it definitely fits more in line with where the McLaren strengths are.” – Sapa-AFP