Alonso ready for Valencia challenge

Ferrari are still without a win this season but Fernando Alonso believes he can win in front of his home crowd.

    Reigning champion and current leader Vettel celebrates his win at the 2010 European Grand Prix [GALLO/GETTY] 

    Sebastian Vettel proved he was beatable in Canada but the Red Bull driver will look to get back to winning ways this weekend at the European Grand Prix. 

    Jenson Button's dramatic victory in Montreal was McLaren's second win from seven races, with Vettel winning the rest to establish a healthy 60-point lead over Button.

    However, Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso is adamant the battle is not just between Red Bull and McLaren.

    Frustrated by his last couple of races, Alonso is eager to revive his dwindling title hopes with victory in front of his home fans at Valencia's street circuit.

    The Spanish driver, who trails Vettel by 92 points, is confident Ferrari can challenge the German Red Bull driver since "we showed we were clearly capable of winning'' at the last two races.

    Alonso has never had much luck in the European Grand Prix but this time the driver arrives in Valencia convinced he is due a change of fortune.

    Signs of promise

    Alonso could have had his first victory this season in Monaco, but the race was stopped as he was poised to challenge Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel for the lead. In Montreal, he lost out in a collision with McLaren's eventual winner Jenson Button.

    "I know that our fans are eagerly awaiting our first win of the season and I can assure you that the same goes for us," the Spaniard told the Ferrari website ahead of the eighth round.

    "At the last two races, we showed we were clearly capable of winning and, especially in Monaco, we came pretty close, although I believe that even in Canada I could have fought for it all the way to the end, given what we had seen in qualifying."

    "I know that our fans are eagerly awaiting our first win of the season and I can assure you that the same goes for us"

    Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso

    "Now we go to a track with reasonably similar characteristics to Montreal and there is no obvious reason why we should not be competitive here too," said Alonso, who is fifth in the drivers standings.

    Last year the Spaniard and Ferrari left Valencia shaking their fists, with the Italian glamour team cursing what they angrily denounced as a "false race".

    Alonso had been third and chasing McLaren's Lewis Hamilton when the safety car came out and triggered controversy, with Hamilton slipping past it while Alonso held back.

    The Spaniard ended up eighth, Hamilton second - for the third year in a row - despite a meaningless drive-through penalty for passing the safety car.

    "To tell the truth, I've never been that lucky in this race since it's been held on the Valencia street circuit," said

    "I always believe that luck and bad luck balance out by the end of the season and maybe this unwritten rule also applies to race tracks."
    "If that's the case, I would be more than happy if last year's misfortune was paid back now. In fact, it seems that in general so far this season, luck has not come our way: in the race in Montreal, not one damned thing went right."

    Points to prove

    Vettel, with five wins from seven, will be the favourite again after winning last year although it remains to be seen how much Red Bull are affected by the governing FIA's clampdown on engine mapping systems.

    Button, second overall and 60 points adrift of the 23-year-old German, will also fancy his chances while Hamilton needs a strong showing after two wild races prompted criticism of his driving.

        Red Bull's Webber is also without a win this season [GALLO/GETTY]

    "For me, Valencia will be a weekend of consolidation after two disappointing results in Monaco and Canada," said Hamilton, the 2008 world champion.

    "Those two races were particularly frustrating for me because we showed we had the pace to win both of them, yet I only came away with eight points."

    "We've arguably had the fastest race car in the last three races and that's really encouraging because I know that, when it's put to best use, I should be able to finish at the front."

    With both McLaren drivers now having beaten Vettel this season, the German's Australian team mate Mark Webber will also be keen to get in on the act at a circuit where last season he stood out with a spectacular crash after the car was launched into the air.

    "Valencia hasn't been an incredible venue for me in the past but I'm looking to try and break the duck this year," said Webber.

    Webber, much like Alonso, has something to prove on the circuit.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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