Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali has admitted that his team’s hopes of taking either championship trophy back to Maranello in 2014 are now over, with the Italian saluting Sebastian Vettel who stands on the brink of a fourth consecutive world title.
A win for Sebastian Vettel around Suzuka this weekend, coupled with a finish of ninth or worse for Fernando Alonso, would hand the German his fourth world championship, equalling Alain Prost’s tally.
Vettel’s series of four consecutive wins, dating back to the Belgian Grand Prix, has seen the 26-year-old extend his championship lead over title rival Alonso to 77 points, with just 125 still available in the remaining five races.
Domenicali has acknowledged that the Scuderia’s hopes of winning either championship are now all but lost, stating that: “We need to be realistic.
“We know it is almost impossible to win the title, so congratulations to him (Vettel) and to what they (Red Bull) are doing because at the end of the day if they have that (the title) they deserve that.
“For now, it is an extra push and a motivation for our team to try to achieve the level of performance they were able to achieve.”
Despite a difficult weekend in Korea, in which Fernando Alonso came home only sixth, the Spaniards worst finish since the Monaco Grand Prix back in May, Domenicali remains hopeful of an upturn in form in Suzuka, a track at which Felipe Massa finished second in 2012.
“It was not an easy weekend for us in Korea,” said the Ferrari team boss.
“We saw some sign that would be the case on Friday. It was not really a weekend where we were competitive in terms of our race pace, as we were in Belgium, Monza and Singapore.
“Unfortunately, it was really quite a painful Sunday, particularly when you are always in traffic, unable to overtake.
“As we saw, we were pacing with the same lap time as the Sauber (Nico Hulkenberg) with our engine, and with the Mercedes, but Vettel and Lotus were too strong. That’s a fact.
“So I hope it will be less painful this weekend, and we need to be positive inside.
“We have always said we should be there to take the opportunity in case Sebastian has a problem, but that was not the case on Sunday.
“Maybe this Sunday the situation will be better, and maybe a situation – sportingly of course – will happen to Vettel instead of to poor Mark (Webber). Then we will be getting closer.”
Image courtesy of Pirelli