Yeongam: Two-times world champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso remained calm and cool on Monday as he headed back to Europe after winning Sunday’s inaugural rain-hit South Korean Grand Prix for Ferrari.
As his Italian team crackled with excitement following Alonso’s triumph - a win that lifted him to the top of the drivers’ world championship with two races remaining - the scarlet scuderia’s boss Stefano Domenicali warned them it was too soon to celebrate and to stay focussed for the final events in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
“For us now, the mission is to stay cool, to keep very concentrated and without over-reacting to this great part of the season,” said Domenicali.
“Now is the time for us to be really concentrated, to be humble and to prepare for these races in the best way we can.
“We have to do this because we know the competitors are very, very strong. We cannot afford to have any kind of problems. That is going to be important, the difference, for us.
“So I ask them for the preparation, the reliability and concentration and then, of course, to manage the races with no mistakes. That is for all of us - me, my engineers, our mechanics, our drivers, Fernando, and also of course, Felipe (Massa).”
Brazilian Massa finished third in Sunday’s delayed and rain-interrupted contest behind Briton Lewis Hamilton of McLaren after both Red Bull drivers Australian Mark Webber and German Sebastian Vettel had failed to finish.
Webber, who led the championship before the weekend, crashed out of the race and Vettel retired after an engine failure while leading.
Alonso’s win hoisted him to 231 points ahead of Webber on 220 and Hamilton on 210. Vettel has 206 and Hamilton’s McLaren team-mate and compatriot defending champion Jenson Button lies fifth on 189.
Sunday’s win was a great achievement for Alonso, in his first season with the Ferrari team, as it cemented his place at the top after taking a ‘tortoise and hare’ approach to the season, concentrating on consistency and podium finishes.
He led the title race after two rounds, but then slipped behind as the season became a car development battle dominated by the speed of the Red Bull team, but he stressed that consistent good finishes would pay off.
Domenicali praised his and the team’s deep mental resolve in this period and pointed to it as the main factor in helping Ferrari stay in touch and emerge as leaders.
“It is a strong message for the strong mental approach to the races, but I have to keep the right approach to the guys not to get their feet off the ground,” he said. “We have to stay concentrated because up to now we have not done anything.
Alonso, as always, remained downbeat and realistic after enjoying a prancing celebration on the podium following his third win in four outings.
He said: “There are four or five contenders still so, as we repeat many times, the key is consistency.”
He acknowledged that his fifth win this season had been one of his most satisfying.
“To get both cars on to the podium is a fantastic achievement for Ferrari,” he said.
“We were competitive all weekend, but with the weather conditions you never know and it was a tricky race to finish. I think it’s my first wet race win so I’m more than happy.