With his lead in the Formula One standings dwindling, and defending champion Sebastian Vettel looming, Fernando Alonso has urged his Ferrari team to step up their efforts if they are to win the world title.

Alonso finished a creditable third in the Singapore Grand Prix last weekend, while his nearest championship challenger, Lewis Hamilton, retired early with a malfunctioning gearbox in his McLaren. However, the Spaniard has gone four races without taking the checkered flag and, with Red Bull's Vettel winning the Marina Bay night race, another formidable challenger has replaced Hamilton in second place in the drivers' standings.

“In the end, it went well but we definitely can't go on like this,” said Alonso, whose lead is 29 points.

“It can't always be the case that my closest rival retires, as has happened in the last two races, and we can't think of carrying on to the end of the season with qualifying sessions like last Saturday, when our performance was almost a second off the best.”

Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal, agreed that improvement was necessary, particularly given the nature of the tracks in the remaining six races, with South Korea and Abu Dhabi requiring similar car set-ups.

“Clearly we need to make a step forward in terms of performance, because we cannot rely purely on the misfortune of others,” Domenicali said. “Having said that, we must not overreact as it's better to bring in a few updates that work, rather than bring in too many. This is the area where we need to improve and it will be one of our priorities.” -The Independent