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Monday 11 December 2017

Victor Alonso ready for long fight for title

Fernando Alonso savoured a debut win for Ferrari, but knows this is only the first blow landed in the season-long fight for the Formula One world title.

Alonso spearheaded a Ferrari one-two at yesterday's Bahrain Grand Prix for his 22nd career victory, his first since Japan in 2008, and third at the Sakhir circuit.

If omens are anything to go by, on the previous two occasions Alonso won this race he went on to win the title in 2005 and 2006 when he was in his first spell with Renault.

There was a degree of fortune to the triumph as Sebastian Vettel was on course for a pole-to-flag success until a spark-plug failure resulted in a loss of power for the Red Bull driver.

Dropping two to three seconds a lap, Vettel was caught by Alonso and then Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa in the space of 20 seconds, as well as McLaren's Lewis Hamilton to finish fourth. Despite such a convincing win for Alonso, who finished 16 seconds clear of Massa, with Hamilton a further seven seconds adrift, the Spaniard knows one race win does not make a championship.

"The eight drivers in the top four teams are contenders for the championship," said Alonso, who left Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher trailing by 40 seconds in fifth and sixth, while reigning champion Jenson Button was seventh.

"This is only the first race, but we saw the potential of Mercedes in practice and the first qualifying period.

"We also saw the potential of the McLaren in the race as they were on the podium. And we saw the potential of Red Bull as they were quicker than us in qualifying, and maybe a little quicker than us in the race.

"Of course with Felipe, who is in the same car, there will be races one of us wins and some races the other will.

"It all comes down to each track. In Bahrain it went well for us," he said.

Vettel, who this season has christened his car 'Luscious Liz', was left counting the cost of another reliability issue.

"It's a pity, but what can you do," he shrugged.

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