Alonso Admits Hamilton is the Biggest Threat

By: Anthony Fontanelle

Until last Sunday's Magny race, Fernando Alonso had been saying that he was fighting for his third consecutive World Championship against three drivers - two from Ferrari and one from his own team McLaren Mercedes.

After Lewis Hamilton's eighth consecutive podium finish in the race in French Grand Prix on Sunday, when Briton finished third behind a Ferrari one-two led by Kimi Raikkonen, Alonso has admitted that it is now Hamilton - not Kimi Raikkonen or Felipe Massa, who is the biggest threat to his title.

Speaking to AS, a Spanish sports daily, Alonso, who finished seventh at Magny-Cours and saw the Briton's lead at the head of the championship over him widen from ten to fourteen points, said that the Ferrari victory and Hamilton's failure to win from second on the grid had been the "best possible" result from his point of view.

"Lewis is the one I have got to worry about. He is the one out in front. He is the one I need to start clawing back points from and, God willing, I will start doing that at Silverstone next week." The Spaniard said that, sooner or later, the technical problems that dogged his weekend in France and left him fighting from tenth on the grid will affect Hamilton's side of the McLaren garage and, when they do, he will be ready, said the Spaniard.

"One day, the problems I have had with the gearbox and the safety car will happen to him," Alonso said. "And I will be waiting to take full advantage and make up seven or eight points on him. Before the weekend, I had to make up eleven points. Now I need fifteen points, but it is a long season."

McLaren never tires of reminding aficionados, the drivers remain the closest of friends. But the tight competition between them is building in the run-up to Silverstone, where the Briton will be taking advantage of the and other race parts to prove something for the legions of his new fans in his home race. The drivers continue their banter at the start of a busy week, particularly for Hamilton, who has a series of pre-race sponsorship commitments to fulfill alongside his normal duties.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis believes that Ferrari have not made as big a leap forward as the result at Magny-Cours might suggest. McLaren had been on the back foot as they tried to remedy the technical problems with Alonso's car on Friday and Saturday but never found optimum balance for the cars.

"We flattered Ferrari this weekend," Dennis said. "They did a good job and probably improved the car a little bit. But we made them look a lot better than they were. Hopefully, we will demonstrate that at Silverstone."

Dennis said that he was delighted that Raikkonen had won over Massa, who led for much of the race after starting from pole, because it reduced Massa's advance from third place in the championship table. "Overall, it was damage limitation from beginning to end," Dennis said. "If this is going to be our worst race then we'll be comfortable with that. And if we hadn't had such good races before, we wouldn't be where we are in the World Championship. We have to put it down to the fact that you can't win every race and this one we didn't win."

The Magny-Cours race included a strange incident involving Spyker's Christian Albers. "I don't know why he did that. He's an experienced driver, he should know what to do," said Mike Gascoyne, the Dutch team's chief technical officer.

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