Nurburgring, Germany, July 25, 2011 (AFP) - Fernando Alonso and Ferrari are set to adopt a high-risk 'full attack' mode in every race as they bid, with help from a revitalised McLaren, to overhaul Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull in Formula One's world championship.
This was made clear in the wake of Sunday's sensational victory by Briton Lewis Hamilton in the German Grand Prix, the McLaren man outperforming all his rivals to record his second win this year and the 16th of his career.
Two times world champion Spaniard Alonso came home second for Ferrari, beaten by Hamilton's sheer speed, commitment and audacity, with Red Bull's Australian Mark Webber third ahead of his struggling - by his own high standards - team-mate defending champion German Vettel.
Following a string of improved results, Alonso and Ferrari now believe that they have a chance in the title race and have adopted the soccer manager's cliché of 'taking each race as it comes' as they cut into Vettel and Red Bull's huge leads.
Ferrari team chief Stefano Domenicali said: "What we need to do is attack every race and then, not now because it is too far away from us, later on to see what is happening in the championship.
"And the more drivers and more cars there are that can fight to win, the easier it is going to be for us to score more points and to cut the gap - which, at the moment, is still very big."
After Sunday's race, which marked the half-way mark in the 19-race season, Vettel leads with 216 points ahead of Webber on 139, Hamilton on 134 and Alonso on 130. Briton Jenson Button of McLaren who was forced to retire with hydraulics problems, is fifth on 109 points.
In the constructors' championship, Red Bull lead with 355 points ahead of McLaren on 243 and Ferrari on 192.
For Domenicali, there was more than one reason to be cheerful on Monday when he looked back on a weekend that saw Vettel not only fail to start on the front row for the first time in 15 races, but also miss a podium finish for the first time this year.
The emergence of a revitalised McLaren with Hamilton back to his scintillating best might be seen as a threat at other times, but in the current position represented a boost in the bid to rein in Red Bull whose team chief Christian Horner admitted had been given "a wake-up call."
And Ferrari's performance in the coldest conditions of the season - the scarlet scuderia normally struggles to warm its tyres quickly enough - proved that it has a car now capable of competing in all weather.
He said: "We know that in these conditions our problem is usually the warming up of the tyres so we are happy to see a car that performed so well in these conditions, which for sure are not the best for us. "I am happy, also, to see that in the last couple of races that Fernando has scored the most number of points and that means we have come back to the performance that we should have. I am expecting a second part to the season that will be interesting, for sure."
"I really feel that Red Bull is still the strongest team, but McLaren showed here that they were very good. So I am not underestimating the competitors. "Now we go to Hungary where I don't forget that last year after the win in Germany we were one second off the pace of Red Bull. So we need to keep our feet on the ground and keep working on the development of the car."
Alonso refused to be drawn into any optimistic forecasts about his own hopes. He said: "I think it's still the same -- and it's still very difficult. We need some help from Red Bull! If they keep finishing the races, even third or fourth, is enough for them.
"But if there is a small chance to win the championship, we need the best McLaren possible because they need to be on the podium constantly and we have to be in front of them as well."