• Austrian GP

'Impossible' to challenge Mercedes this year - Alonso

ESPN Staff
June 22, 2014 « Perez laments costly grid penalty | Strategy needs improvement - Massa »
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Fernando Alonso says it is impossible for Ferrari to close the gap to Mercedes this season and its only hope is to find engine performance over the winter.

Alonso was fifth in Austria but over 25 seconds behind the two lead Mercedes and unable to mount a serious challenge to the two Mercedes-powered Williamses ahead of him. Despite Red Bull winning in Canada and Williams running close to Mercedes for some of the race in Austria, Alonso said there was no hope of Ferrari challenging before next year.

"To close the gap to Mercedes [this year]? Impossible," he said. "It's too much difference. We cannot touch the engine [under the homologation rules], we cannot do big changes and they are over 200 points ahead of us in the constructors' championship. If I tell you we will recover that gap or fight with them … I do not think with the engine freeze we can do anything."

Alonso was passed by Lewis Hamilton on the first lap in Austria and then closed on Felipe Massa's Mercedes-powered Williams in the closing stages, but believes the cars ahead were able to toy with his Ferrari.

"They seemed to use the maximum power for only a few laps in the race and they have such an advantage that they can play with it a little bit," he said. "When I was with Massa at the end and close, he pulled away. It was the same when I was with Hamilton on the first lap, it was unbelievable the difference between the two cars. If they run with those settings they will probably lap everyone but they cannot do it for the whole race. "

Alonso said Ferrari has to look to 2015 to catch Mercedes.

"In one year many things can happen. We saw some cases in the past that from one year to another many things can change, especially this year when we are very new with the regulations. I expect in 2015 there will be big steps from everybody, including Mercedes, so we will all be better next year. Definitely the teams that started with lower baselines have more margin to improve and will get closer to the level of Mercedes. I hope in time, because it is not a job you can do in one day, our intention is to be at that level."

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