Fernando Alonso has accepted defeat in the hunt for the drivers’ championship but insists that he is highly motivated to secure second place in the Constructors’ championship for Ferrari.
Sebastian Vettel can clinch his fourth world title if he wins in Japan and Alonso fails to finish in the top eight.
Alonso says that finishing in a position to retain a mathematical chance of winning the title is not his target.
“Today’s result is more or less what we were expecting, not having had a great pace all weekend, always being between sixth and tenth and even in Q3, I could not do more,” he said after qualifying in eighth place.
“Here the long run tests went better in terms of degradation than in Korea and that gives us hope that we can make up ground in the race. Tomorrow, we will give it our best shot, as always, trying to count on our strong points; the start, the strategy and the way we manage tyre degradation.”
“The aim is definitely not just to finish in the first eight to keep the Championship alive, because if Vettel doesn’t win here, he will do it in one of the next races, when the number of combinations that can affect the result will be less. Now we need to pick up points for second place in the Constructors’ Championship and for that we need to finish ahead of Mercedes, who are only one point behind us.”
Felipe Massa will start the race from fifth place and likened his ‘perfect’ lap to his pole position experience from 2006.
“Managing to put together a perfect lap on this incredible track is always extremely satisfying and it reminded me of my pole here in 2006,” he said.
“Even if it’s a fifth place, it’s still a good starting point for tomorrow. Already yesterday, I could feel the car was well balanced and today we did a good job, managing to get all the potential out of it. More than this was not possible, but I am very happy all the same.”
“Sure, tomorrow’s race will not be easy, because we have some very fast cars ahead of us, but we can be in the game and for that we must concentrate to the maximum on strategy and tyre management. Getting a good result will depend very much on having a strong pace. Last year, I finished second here and this evening I will try and remember how I did it.”