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GP Week : Issue 164
28 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: Carlos Slim Jr. Fifth place may not have been the birthday present Fernando Alonso was hoping for in Budapest as he turned 31, but he nevertheless welcomed with open arms the extension of his championship lead to 40 points going into the month-long summer break. Alonso’s Ferrari had never looked on the pace of the leaders during the weekend, as he languished in sixth place on the grid. Although he picked up a place at the start, he didn’t have the pace to match the frontrunners, and only claimed fifth when Webber pitted for a third time in the final 15 laps. The Spaniard said he had expected to finish seventh, but instead was able to finish ahead of his closest championship rival Mark Webber, with both Lotuses claiming big points on the podium to limit Vettel to fourth. “It’s a positive result, no doubt about it. We knew this would be a complicated weekend because we were not quick enough, but despite everything, we managed to extend our lead over Webber,” commented Alonso. “In terms of the championship it has therefore been a very good weekend. “To have finished ahead of one Red Bull and right behind the other in these circumstances was very important because, on paper, we should have expected to finish seventh. “Hamilton was out of our reach this weekend, but we did not lose much ground to Vettel and these are in my opinion, the strongest of the group that’s behind me in the championship.” He is adamant however that Ferrari must improve the pace of the F2012 if he is to win the championship. “We have a lead of forty points, courtesy of a car that has not been the best in this first half of the season,” he continued. “Now we must try and make a good leap forward in terms of performance to allow us to keep the lead in the Championship, because in the long term, what we have now will not be enough.” Alonso has now recorded 23 consecutive points-scoring finishes, drawing him ever-closer to Schumacher’s all-time record of 24. FIFTH BUT STILL HAPPY: ALONSO EXTENDS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD F1 >>> BUDAPEST