Fernando Alonso is convinced he will be able to stay in the championship fight until the final race despite Sebastian Vettel's momentum.
Red Bull driver Vettel has won the last two races to reduce Alonso's lead to just four points with five races to go, the German taking a dominant victory in the Japanese Grand Prix last Sunday. Although Ferrari seems to have fallen behind Red Bull in the development race, Alonso is optimistic that his team can still take a step forward that will keep him in the fight.
"I am sure we can be in the fight right down to the wire," Alonso said. "The people who are working on the car are the same who have done the job so far and there's no reason to think they can't do a good job again now.
"Let's not forget that, if I am still leading the championship, it's because we have been capable of improving the car significantly compared to the start of the season and also because we are capable of always getting the most out of what we have to work with.
"We have not been gifted anything, indeed Spa and Suzuka deprived us of places that were easily within our grasp. It's not through some sort of divine miracle that we are in this position – it is down to the work of all us, from first to last. Formula 1 is a team sport: you win and you lose together."
The Ferrari driver believes his team's lack of competitiveness in some of the recent races is more a reflection of how this season is full of ups and downs rather than a lack of development.
"For sure, there are some teams who, in this final part of the season have made a significant step forward, while we have not matched that, especially in terms of how the car behaves on certain types of track. However, it is equally true that, at Monza for example, we had a car that was good enough to take pole, while then at Singapore, we got a bit lost and to a certain extent, we also suffered at Suzuka, even if there, Felipe [Massa] showed he was pretty competitive in the race: if we weren't as quick as the Red Bulls, we were at least a match for all the others.
"Actually, these ups and downs seem to be the norm this season: in Japan, the McLaren seemed less strong than in the previous race while Red Bull stepped up significantly, as indeed did Sauber."