sport

Domenicali seeks something extra

Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali fears his team may have taken a step backwards in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

For the second consecutive race Fernando Alonso conjured a performance beyond the limits of the car to finish as runner-up behind Kimi Raikkonen, who grabbed Lotus' first victory this season.

But the fact Sebastian Vettel was right behind the Spaniard to limit the damage following his pitlane start proved particularly galling for Domenicali.

Instead of taking a sizeable bite out of a lead that was 13 points ahead of the race at the Yas Marina circuit, Alonso merely nibbled at the edges to reduce it to 10 with 50 still available.

There is still hope on the horizon, but it is slim with the Ferrari most definitely second best to the Red Bull at present, despite the points gap.

Domenicali said: "Yet another great race from Fernando in what is an amazing season for him.

"His second place came about mainly because of his ability to get the most, and maybe even a bit more than that, out of what we gave him to work with.

"The gap to the leader in the classification has come down to 10 points and everything is still up for grabs.

"But we must do something extra, and better than what we have done to date, to give him a more competitive car.

"The Grand Prix was particularly difficult because, not only did our performance level not match that of our closest rivals, but it was actually worse than that of other teams.

"We have a duty to try right to the very last metre of the final race, and that's what we will do, you can be sure of it."

Domenicali knows, however, an opportunity has gone begging, considering Red Bull and Vettel were punished for a fuel irregularity after qualifying which saw the German demoted to the rear of the field.

Circumstances, however, played into Vettel's hands - even though he was last again after 14 laps following a front-wing change.

"If we had been offered this 10-point gap on leaving Abu Dhabi, immediately after qualifying, maybe we would have taken it," added Domenicali.

"But it's also true that before the start our prospects had changed.

"Definitely the way the race played out, and the incidents that occurred, did not do us any favours in light of the championship.

"But these are circumstances over which we have no control, and the important thing is we have reduced the gap in the classification.

"On top of that, we have increased our lead over our closest rival (McLaren) in the constructors' championship, which is a good thing."

Alonso remains defiant, even though he knows he does not have the car to compete with Vettel on an equal footing going into the final two races in the United States and Brazil.

The new Circuit of the Americas track, however, will be a leveller as it makes its debut, whilst the weather conditions over Interlagos can often make that race a lottery.

Assessing the final two weeks of the seasonn, Alonso said: "They have the quicker car, we have the better team.

"Everyone fights with the weapons they have at their disposal: we will not manage to turn our car into the quickest of the pack with a wave of a magic wand.

"But we will counter their performance with the perfection of our team.

"For me, I am thinking the glass is half full rather than half empty, with the best race of the year still to come."