Alonso looks for perfection
Fernando Alonso knows nothing less than perfection will guarantee him this season's Formula One world title because he is all out of magic.
After the two practice sessions ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, it is apparent Alonso requires some help from somewhere given Sebastian Vettel again took the honours.
In the three races at the Yas Marina circuit, Vettel has never been off the front row, claiming two poles, going on to clinch two wins.
The only blot on his copybook came last year when he suffered a lap-one puncture, but then only after he had sealed back-to-back titles.
Alonso, knowing he cannot concede too much ground in qualifying to Vettel, found himself 0.836secs and six places adrift of the 25-year-old German who is 13 points clear in the standings.
A repeat of that scenario, and barring any further mishap for Vettel, the title race could be all over bar the shouting going into the final two rounds in the United States and Brazil.
"We've tried to prepare for this race better than ever," said Alonso, whose Ferrari is understood to be sporting new rear-wing elements.
"We don't think we will close the gap completely to Red Bull, not from what happened in India (last weekend), in a matter of days.
"There is no magic button or magic part in Formula One, but we will try to get closer, to put some more pressure on them.
"They've had four very easy races lately. They have a lot of margin, and so they can make little mistakes without any penalty.
"We need to make the most of everything they don't do perfectly, and we need to find perfection ourselves these next three races, to be very close to them and attack the whole race."
It was two years ago Alonso went into the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi favourite to win the title, only to lose out to Vettel as Ferrari poorly executed their race strategy.
The 31-year-old would naturally love to exact a form of revenge in Sao Paolo on November 25 when the title fight reaches its denouement.
"Clearly we would like to win this championship, and we would like to do it in Brazil," added Alonso.
"For that we need to compete at our maximum for these three races, to find extra time from every single person in the team, every single mechanic, engineer, with our pit stops, whatever.
"The revenge will be if we win in Brazil. If we can do it, it will be fantastic."
At this point it appears the two-horse race will likely conclude in Austin when F1 makes its long-awaited return to America after a five -year absence.
Cuttingly, Vettel has cited McLaren duo Hamilton and team-mate Jenson Button as his closest rivals this weekend, with Alonso not getting a mention.
Hamilton was 0.168secs adrift, with Button - who has finished third every year of this event - a further half a second back such was the chasm between the top two and the rest of the field.
"We can be happy with today," said Vettel.
"In general pace the McLaren was quick and seem competitive, so they are the ones we need to look out for and beat."
A fifth straight victory, not achieved since Michael Schumacher in 2004, will almost certainly help Red Bull claim a third successive constructors' crown, a feat managed by just three teams previously - Ferrari (twice), McLaren and Williams.
The prospect of such an achievement is a mouthwatering one for team principal Christian Horner who said: "There are very few teams that have won three constructors' titles in succession.
"If we manage to achieve that, across different regulations, across different tyre suppliers, it will be remarkable for every single member of the team, and would be by far our biggest achievement.
"It's been a tighter-fought championship this year than last year, but as a team this year we have worked better than ever."
Informed no driver who has won four successive races has never gone on to win the title - and there have been 15 in the past - Horner said: "Well, let's hope we don't change history."