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Fernando Alonso is main threat - Lewis Hamilton

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton i

Hamilton hopes downforce issues are resolved

By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport in Singapore

Lewis Hamilton has singled out Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso as his most dangerous rival for the world title.

Alonso, who won the last race, is third in the championship, 16 points behind Hamilton and 21 adrift of Red Bull's Mark Webber with five races to go.

But Hamilton said ahead of Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix: "Fernando seems to be [the main threat] because Ferrari have really stepped up their game.

"[I am] assuming they are our closest rivals at the moment."

As a thrilling season approaches its only night race in Singapore on Sunday, five drivers - Webber, Hamilton, Alonso, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and McLaren's Jenson Button - are all within a win of each other.

Asked which of the main protagonists was the favourite this weekend, Hamilton responded: "I guess the guy who won the last race - so I'll let Fernando be the favourite, that's fine for me."

McLaren's Jenson Button

Massa will cause problems - Button

Hamilton may have been answering with a smile but he has first-hand experience of Alonso's competitive spirit when the pair fought for the 2007 crown as McLaren team-mates.

The rivalry was so intense that both of them lost the championship by a single point to former Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen - and Alonso left McLaren on acrimonious terms.

Hamilton and Button acknowledge the threat now posed by Alonso, who has arrived in Singapore with significant momentum after hauling himself back into contention with his third win of the season in Italy two weeks ago.

A consistent run of results has seen the Spaniard collect more points (68) from the last four races than his main title rivals Webber (59), Vettel (42), Hamilton (37) and Button (32).

I think we can have a quick car everywhere in the remaining races

Fernando Alonso

"It just shows how important it is to finish and to get points but also to be right at the front challenging," said Button.

"Ferrari are more competitive now and have scored more points than anyone in the last few races.

"They were running an aerodynamic package that suits Monza, and maybe they put a lot of time in to win at home, but they showed their pace and we will see how they stand here.

"This is an important race to understand where Ferrari are and where we are compared to Red Bull."

Button also believes Alonso has an added advantage because he is not facing a championship rival within his own team, unlike the McLaren and Red Bull drivers.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa is sixth in the championship and mathematically still in contention but Button was alluding to Alonso's status as Ferrari's de facto number one driver.

That position was underlined when Ferrari were found guilty of using banned team orders for appearing to give Massa a coded message to allow Alonso through to win the German Grand Prix.

"It's obviously the best situation for Fernando," said Button.

606: DEBATE
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"It's got to help knowing that your team-mate will back you up - if that's the case, and I'm not saying it is.

"Felipe could be taking points off of us but, if our car is quick and we're winning races, he could be taking points off Red Bull which is also good for us."

Alonso, who is chasing his third world title, was also confident about his chances in Singapore, a race he won in controversial circumstances in 2008 when his then Renault team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr deliberately crashed.

"If we have five podiums in the five races we will be very close to winning the title because consistency this year has not been the strongest point for anyone," said Alonso.

"I think we can have a quick car everywhere in the remaining races.

"We don't have the quickest car in the slow-speed corners or the quickest car on the straight-line speed - something which our opponents have - but we are a very competitive package overall in all types of conditions and hopefully this can help us in the remaining races.

I see Ferrari as the biggest threat - they have a quick car, and arguably they have been the closest to us since halfway through the year

Christian Horner
Red Bull team principal

"After winning in Monza it is important for us to keep up the momentum, to keep the high motivation. Doing well here will be a continuation of Monza success and that will be good news for us.

"A DNF or a retirement will now probably be bye-bye for the championship."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner also said he believes Ferrari are more dangerous than McLaren.

"I see Ferrari as the biggest threat, to be honest," Horner said.

"They have a quick car, and arguably they have been the closest to us since halfway through the year.

"They had a bit of bad luck in the middle of the year around Valencia and Silverstone, but in Hockenheim they were quick, and they were closest to us in Budapest. Spa didn't go their way but they were quick again in Monza, so arguably I see Ferrari as the biggest challenge.

"But we are focused on our own performance. We cannot dictate what they do, and rather than spending time and energy worrying about what others are doing, we have tended to focus more on ourselves."



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see also
'Relaxed' Webber wants no regrets
23 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
Hamilton aims to learn from error
16 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
Alonso revels in Ferrari home win
12 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
Alonso beats Button to Monza win
12 Sep 10 |  Formula 1


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