September 8th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Ferrari's Fernando Alonso gave everything he had in pursuit of victory in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, but in the end it was not enough. Sebastian Vettel won comfortably, and Alonso had to fight for second place, fending off a challenge from Mark Webber in the closing stages of the race. Alonso fell a further seven points behind Vettel with this result, which puts him 53 points behind in the Drivers' Championship table with seven races remaining. It's a massive deficit to overcome, but Alonso is not giving up yet.
After the race, Alonso expressed his emotion at standing on the podium in front of Ferrari's home fans: "Stepping onto the Monza podium is always a special feeling, as it’s the only one where you can feel all the love that the fans have for the team and it’s the best prize at the end of what was an almost perfect weekend."
The weekend was not quite perfect for Ferrari, as Alonso failed to win the race, but second place was the best he could have hoped for in his Ferrari, which was no match for the Red Bull of Vettel ahead. Alonso described his race weekend:
"We went well on both Friday and Saturday, getting both cars in the top five, but Red Bull was able to do better. When Vettel pitted, we were still doing green sector times and so we opted to lengthen the stint as much as possible, at least while Webber was not becoming a threat. That way, we could have tried to get Vettel on Hard tyres that were fresher by a few laps."
Ultimately, Ferrari's tactics were not able to move Alonso forward, and he in fact lost some time in the pit stop phase to Vettel, but in any event it did not have a material effect on the outcome of the race.
Alonso said after the race: "We tried our best and even if we have to be realistic about our championship chances, as it’s not an easy task to close down a 53 point gap in the few remaining races, in Formula 1 anything can happen and we will believe in our chances all the way to the finish line in Brazil, always trying to give a hundred percent.”
From this point on, Alonso needs fortune to be on his side if he is to challenge for the title this season. Vettel is far enough ahead that he can win the title by finishing second in each of the remaining seven races, even if Alonso wins each time. So Alonso's hopes are riding on Vettel retiring from a race or two, or perhaps struggling and failing to score good points for a few races. That doesn't look likely, as the Red Bull is clearly the fastest car in the field.