BARCELONA: After reaching a year without a win on Sunday, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso feared it could be some time before he stood on top of the Formula One podium again.
The Spaniard finished sixth in his home race at the Circuit de Catalunya, nearly a minute and a half behind Mercedes’ race winner Lewis Hamilton. His Finnish team mate, 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen, was lapped.
“Unfortunately we were not in a position to fight for more wins in these 12 months and we need to do better. It probably will not happen soon because we’ve been lapped today,” Alonso said.
Since Alonso’s win in Spain last May, only three drivers have won races - Red Bull’s quadruple champion Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton and his Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg.
Mercedes have won all five races so far this year, ending Vettel’s run of nine in a row at the end of 2013, and look in championship form of their own thanks to the performance of their engine.
Alonso, who was championship runner-up in 2010, 2012 and 2013, is third overall in the drivers’ standings, 51 points behind Hamilton. Ferrari are third in the constructors’ table with 66 points to Mercedes’ 197 and Red Bull’s 84.
“Maybe Mercedes is out of reach,” the Spaniard conceded. “We need to target second place in the championship if we can.”
Alonso finished the opening Australian Grand Prix in March 35 seconds behind Rosberg, the winner in Melbourne, and was the same gap behind Hamilton in Malaysia.
In Bahrain it was 32 seconds but in China, where he finished third, that had shrunk to a still hefty 23.
With all the top teams bringing upgrades to Barcelona, Alonso said the results showed Ferrari had made no gains on their rivals and needed to do more if they were to trouble Mercedes.
“I think we did the maximum today. Obviously we are not totally happy, finishing so far behind the leaders,” said the Spaniard.
“We need to work a little bit extra. It seems that we are more or less in the same position as the start (of the season); We bring new parts, they brought new parts and we are equal. So we need to do extra.”
Raikkonen finished seventh on Sunday, passed by Alonso in the closing stages and demanding an explanation for the decision to let Alonso pit ahead of him despite being behind on the track.
Alonso, who switched to a three stop strategy, said he had asked to come in because his tyres were suffering heavy degradation and fighting for sixth or seventh gave him little pleasure anyway.
“The intention was to keep Vettel behind. Between Kimi and me, whoever finished first was not the priority. It was to stop Vettel and we didn’t manage it,” he said.