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Page last updated at 15:43 GMT, Monday, 27 September 2010 16:43 UK

In-form Fernando Alonso lays down gauntlet to F1 rivals

Highlights - Singapore Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso has warned his Formula 1 rivals "the championship starts now".

The Spaniard closed to within 11 points of leader Mark Webber after victory in Singapore and feels he is in peak condition for the first time in years.

Alonso, 29, has won three of the last five races to leapfrog Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel, and suggested the best is yet to come.

"Right now, at this point of the championship, I'm at a peak - 100% motivated, focused etc," said Alonso.

"A championship that is nine months long rarely happens in other sports.

"We are in a sport where you cannot be completely fit, focused and motivated 100% at every race, every month. You are up and down.

"Sometimes in past championships in September, I was getting tired, what with all these long flights, getting very stressed.

"But this year it is different. It feels like the championship is starting now, so I feel very happy we will be going to Japan next race," added the Ferrari driver.

In a remarkable turnaround, Alonso has won in Germany, Italy and Singapore since the British Grand Prix, outscoring his four main rivals by between 19 and 56 points.

Alonso - 93 points
Webber -74
Vettel - 60
Button - 44
Hamilton - 37

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali believes the eventual winner of the title will be the driver who possesses the greatest mental strength.

"As we all know the car is crucial with regard to reliability and performance," he stated.

"But we also know that when things are so close, and there are certain moments that are the main moments of either qualifying or the race, the difference is really in the head.

"It is because you have to be there in the right moment without risking too much because if you do then you may suffer problems.

"It's an area where the fight will be very intense, but I don't want to say it's the only area because if you don't have a good car, forget it."

Andrew Benson's blog

Domenicali is confident Alonso has the character to last the distance and clinch his third world title, following triumphs in 2005 and 2006.

"For sure, Fernando is strong in the head, and I really hope he will be the strongest in front of the others," said Domenicali.

"I know his characteristics, but it's also about team work. We need to work with the guys at the track and at home because if you don't work perfectly as a team then it will be difficult to win.

"But one of Fernando's main characteristics is that he is very cool, very calm, and that's what we need from him. That is an important point of his leadership that is very strong in the team."

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see also
Flawless Alonso wins in Singapore
26 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
Title could go to wire - Horner
27 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
Singapore Grand Prix race results
24 Feb 10 |  Results
Singapore Grand Prix as it happened
26 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
Monday's F1 gossip column
27 Sep 10 |  Formula 1

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