• Belgian Grand Prix

Alonso 'punched above his weight' - Horner

ESPN Staff
August 31, 2012 « McLaren able to complete useful work despite rain | Bottas happy to get wet experience »
Christian Horner believes Fernando Alonso has outperformed his Ferrari and has a fragile championship lead © Sutton Images
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Christian Horner thinks Fernando Alonso has "punched above his weight on occasion" in the first half of the season and is confident Red Bull can close the championship gap.

Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel are 40 and 42 points respectively behind Alonso in the standings, with Alonso the only driver to have won three races this season. After a wet Friday in Belgium that revealed little, Horner said Alonso's lead was fragile and that he felt either of Red Bull's drivers could reduce his lead quickly.

"I think he's driven fantastically well," Horner said. "He's grasped his opportunities with both hands and he's really punched above his weight on occasion. Obviously the wet races he's excelled at as well, but there's still a long way to go; 40 points sounds a lot but with 25 for a win and so many competitive drivers that could get between him and winning a race I really think that this championship has still got a long way to go.

"We need to beat him more. The first half of the year has been an interesting half for us. The way that the regulations evolved over the winter and the way that we've managed to deal with that I think we've got a better understanding of the car. We're unlucky not to be sitting here with four race wins after the disappointment of Valencia, but to have won in Monaco, Silverstone and Bahrain we've got a more than 50-point lead in the constructors' championship. But don't take anything for granted, and obviously the main objective is to get both drivers right up there with Fernando."

Tomorrow's qualifying session will be important to helping achieve that aim, with Horner saying Vettel especially has not been as competitive in qualifying as he would like.

"In qualifying Sebastian hasn't been as comfortable with the car on the Saturday as he has on the Sunday, or certainly as comfortable as he was last year when his one-lap performances were quite remarkable. But I think he's getting there, I think he's getting to a point where he's happier with the car; it's getting more to his liking and hopefully both he and Mark can put a strong run of qualifying performances together in the remaining races."