Jenson Button: Fernando Alonso the best man to catch Sebastian Vettel

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso, and not Lewis Hamilton, is the man to take the fizz out of Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and stop the German winning his fourth consecutive Formula One world championship.

That is the view of Jenson Button after the Belgian Grand Prix, where Vettel's fifth victory extended his lead to 46 points – almost two race wins – with eight GPs to go.

Alonso has not won a race for more than three months and his form appeared to be in decline in the races leading up to his second place at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday. But Button said: "I think Fernando's the one to look at to challenge Sebastian. He seems happy with the car and they're making progress.

"I think Ferrari will be strong at Monza [the next race on 8 September] and have a very good chance of winning there. They're stronger now than this time last year and could do very well. The championship's not over."

After Hungary, where Hamilton won thrillingly a month ago, the British driver appeared to be the one with the car and the momentum to unsettle Vettel's march to the mountain top. But Button added: "It's very difficult for anyone, especially Mercedes. It was cool conditions [in Belgium] which should have suited them."

Hamilton's disconsolate demeanour after the race betrayed his disappointment but later he was more upbeat. "I don't feel it is a kick in the balls," he said. "We finished third so there is no low.

"Already this year has been a major success, third in championship, second in constructors' championship. We can't be disappointed with where we are for the rest of year. But we're hungry to win.

"It's within arm's length so we just have to keep pushing and hope that when we get to those high downforce circuits we have more of a chance."

But Hamilton concedes that Vettel could wrap up the title before the season ends on 24 November. "Seb was rapid [in Belgium] and it could happen. He could win way before the end of the season."

Asked if spectators were becoming bored with Vettel victories, Hamilton said: "I don't know. I couldn't care less if people get bored with it, I am racing, enjoying and here to do a job I love doing.

"That's the danger in all sports when people are being competitive and some people are winning quite a lot. People don't say that about the Williams sisters when they are winning." Wrong, Lewis, they do.

What must have hurt Hamilton and the other drivers was the completeness of Vettel's win. From second on the grid, he went round the outside of Hamilton on the first lap and drove well within himself in the latter stages of the race.

He is becoming something of a monster and it will take something more substantial than Hamilton's isolated burst of brilliance in Hungary to stop him. No one, in fact, looks capable of stopping him this year.

Meanwhile, Lotus remain confident they can keep Kimi Raikkonen, even though the driver has been linked with Red Bull and Ferrari.

The Lotus team principal, Eric Boullier, when asked if Raikkonen would be with the team next year, replied: "Yes I am. He loves this team, he likes to be here and he likes the environment.

"But you need to be rational. We have to sort out the strength of the team financially and there is a technical challenge we face for next year.

"It is still up in the air, but as soon as we know we can deliver what he wants then we will obviously sit down. It is like playing in the Premier League. If you want to consistently be like Manchester United then you need another level of investment and commitment. This is what we are working for."

Powered by article was written by Paul Weaver, for The Guardian on Monday 26th August 2013 22.00 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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