Ferrari's tire chief Hirohide Hamashima has praised the role that Fernando Alonso has played so far this season, in both his driving and the way he has motivated the team.
Alonso currently holds a 34 point lead over Mark Webber in the title standings in a campaign where he has not enjoyed having the fastest car. Although improvements that Ferrari made to its F2012 after a difficult start have played a role in it grabbing control of the title battle, Hamashima believes that Alonso's efforts should not be downplayed.
"I think the main reason why Fernando is leading the championship, is Fernando himself," explained Hamashima, who was drafted in at Ferrari earlier this season from his previous role at Bridgestone. "I believe his mentality helps all of our Ferrari staff, so he believes in it [the championship] very well. Of course, there will be difficult competition during the year, but if we keep motivated for the remainder of the season then the results will come."
When asked for a comparison between Michael Schumacher and Alonso, having worked with both drivers, Hamashima said: "Both of the drivers are very, very similar I feel. Both of the drivers never ever give up the championship or the win, but I feel Fernando is relatively quiet, while Michael is a little bit aggressive. That is a different point.
"I get that feeling in meetings. Fernando is quiet, but he acts very correctly. He gives good comment but the expression is a bit different."