Fernando Alonso believes he has gained “a whole new level of respect” in Formula One this year after narrowly missing out on the drivers’ championship.
“Ever since I?óÔéĽÔäóve been at Ferrari, I think I have grown a lot, especially this last year,” said Alonso at the Ferrari World Final event in Valencia.
“Before, the people had a more or less good opinion of me, but now I notice a whole different level of respect. And then, to be one of the greats of Formula 1, it?óÔéĽÔäós not enough to win titles, you must also tackle seasons like the one just ended.”
He added: “I think in terms of strategy, pit stops, starts, reliability, this has been a perfect year. We all agree the one thing lacking was the car, which meant we could not match the best teams for most of the year.
“It?óÔéĽÔäós the only thing we need to improve, but it?óÔéĽÔäós also true that it?óÔéĽÔäós the hardest thing to do. With all the difficulties we had, I?óÔéĽÔäóm thinking for example of how far behind we were in winter testing, to be able to fight right to the very end for the title means we are a great team.”
Alonso said he supported Ferrari’s decision to query Sebastian Vettel’s overtake on Jean-Eric Vergne during the final race in Brazil with the FIA:
“There were a lot of video clips on the Internet and we knew our fans were asking for an explanation and so it was right for Ferrari to turn to the Federation for a clarification,” he said.
“We got a reply and I think everything has now calmed down. I did not pay much attention to all the uproar this incident caused, but I felt we owed our fans an answer.
“Frankly, I?óÔéĽÔäóm not that interested in what the opinion is of me in Germany or elsewhere. What I know is that people who see me in the streets hug me and call me gladiator or samurai. What matters to me are the 1200 people in the Ferrari family, who gave me a standing ovation at a dinner.”
Asked about his target for next year, Alonso said: “I hope to score three or four points more.”
2012 F1 season
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Image ?é?® Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo