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Vettel 'is a great champion' - Alonso

ESPNF1 Staff
September 6, 2011 « Pirelli pushing for 2012 tyre regulation tweaks | »
Fernando Alonso says Sebastian Vettel has "great qualities" © Sutton Images
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Fernando Alonso says Sebastian Vettel has proved himself to be "a great champion" and that he doesn't understand why the championship leader gets criticised.

Vettel has won seven races so far this season to lead team-mate Mark Webber by 92 points in the championship standings. Six of his victories, however, have come after starting from pole, and the other when starting second on the grid, leading some to question Vettel's racecraft. Alonso dismissed any notion that Vettel struggles when driving in the pack, and said he is just maximising his opportunities.

"I don't understand the criticisms about him, that he is not a real racer," Alonso told Auto Bild Motorsport. "He is a great champion about to win his second title and has remarkable qualities; a lot of speed. Yes he has the best car that gets a good place on the grid, but you need to be able to get the most out of it at every race and Sebastian does that very well. Even in difficult moments or when he makes a mistake, he is always fighting for the win. It is proof of his great qualities."

Alonso also acknowledged the strength of the Red Bull team, most notably chief designer Adrian Newey, and joked that Newey should switch to Ferrari in the future.

"They have played to the regulations better than us and the others and this year they have a great car. Adrian Newey is obviously the key person but behind him is a strong team. Ferrari attracts drivers but also technicians, so if Newey wants to come to us it would be a pleasure to drive his car."

Having come close to winning a third world title last season, Alonso pledged not to retire until he had won a championship with Ferrari.

"It's very important to me. I will not stop my career until I am champion with Ferrari. If it doesn't come by 2016 then I will stay in Formula One until 2021 - for twenty years like Michael!"