Alonso stunned to still be in title race
Fernando Alonso heads into tomorrow's title-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix with a degree of disbelief he still finds himself in contention.
Alonso appreciates that in a Ferrari which has qualified on average this season in sixth position on the grid, realistically he should not be in with a shout of the championship.
But with just 300 kilometres of the season remaining, involving 71 laps of an often unpredictable Interlagos circuit that will take on a different personality if it rains tomorrow, as predicted, Alonso is still in with a shot of glory.
Qualifying again proved to be a tough proposition for Alonso as the 31-year-old could only manage the eighth quickest lap, finishing four places behind title rival Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull.
Alonso, however, will now start seventh due to Pastor Maldonado being handed a 10-place penalty after missing a weighbridge at the end of Q1.
With the stewards reprimanding the Venezuelan for the third time this campaign, the accumulation automatically incurs the severe grid drop.
Despite the seemingly mountainous task facing Alonso, asked as to his high and low points of the season going into tomorrow's race, he took no time to deliver his answer.
"The high is sitting here, with a car constantly qualifying eighth in the last races, but we are still talking about the world championship fight," said Alonso.
"This is not normal, so I'm very proud of this and the achievements we (the team) have had this year.
"If we'd had a normal season, taking points of someone similar to our cars, then we would have said bye bye to the championship in Monza or Singapore and had very relaxed races in the last part of the season, as we had last year.
"But we have done something not normal, and tomorrow a lot of people think we have the chance to win the championship because they trust in ourselves and the job we do on a Sunday.
"This is what makes me feel proud and what I will remember this season, no matter what happens tomorrow.
"As for the low points, they were at Spa and Suzuka (where he crashed out in the first corners).
"Maybe we would have mathematically been world champion in Austin (last Sunday's United States Grand Prix) without those two incidents, with 36 points more or so than we have now.
"They will also be remembered."
With heavy rain forecast for most of the day, as polesitter Lewis Hamilton pointed out, "a lottery" of a race can be expected.
Alonso won earlier this year in Malaysia in the wet, and took his two poles at Silverstone and Hockenheim when it rained, so he has the car to at least put Vettel under pressure should the forecast be right.
"In the dry we are not competitive, but in the wet the car performs well sometimes and we are a little more comfortable," added Alonso.
"So we will see tomorrow, but this is a different circuit, and the last time it rained, Silverstone or Germany, four months ago or something like that, since then the car has changed a lot.
"But I'm sure in the wet we can pick up some performance."
It appears Alonso's only hope, other than Vettel suffering some form of unreliability, or as some have pointed out, a first corner clash with Felipe Massa who starts a place behind in fifth.
Dismissing such a prospect, Vettel said: "I'm not worried. We have mirrors on the car, and as soon as the lights go off I will try to attack the guys at the front.
"On top of that there might be things happening, with the weather forecast being what it is, so I won't be looking left and right to be honest."
At least with Alonso behind him, Vettel has the chance to control the situation, not that the racer inside will allow him to play safe.
"We don't race to finish second, fourth, fifth or 10," said Vettel.
"We finished fourth in qualifying, which is not the best, but we can still be quite happy. There are plenty of opportunities in terms of tactics.
"The most important thing is we are present, ready to attack, and hungry."
Ahead of Vettel is an all-McLaren front-row - the team's 62nd in their history - spearheaded by Hamilton for the 26th time on pole, but first in Brazil.
Jenson Button was second for his highest grid slot at Interlagos, whilst Mark Webber even managed to out-qualify Vettel to claim third, with Force India's Paul di Resta now 10th courtesy of Maldonado.