With McLaren dominating to win the last three Grands Prix, Fernando Alonso could be defending his championship lead from Lewis Hamilton for the title this year.
Hamilton drove flawlessly to emerge victorious at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday while the Ferrari driver finished third to extend his lead in the standings.
“From winter testing, who was the driver that I respect more and that was Lewis and we're still here, 13 races afterwards we are first and second in the championship. It will be tough until the end,” Alonso reckoned.
The Spaniard acknowledged that his chances depended on how Ferrari develops the parts for the upcoming races, which could prove to be decisive at the end.
“Fernando let the cat out of the bag and said that they’ve got lots of upgrades coming to the next race, so I am going back to the factory and hoping that the guys are doing the same,” Hamilton was quoted saying by the official Formula 1 website.
Despite the recent promising pace, the McLaren driver insisted that he was not underestimating any of his rivals - particularly Alonso.
“I think Ferrari were as quick as us this weekend,” Hamilton said after winning the race at Monza. “I think if Fernando had better qualifying, I’m sure he would have been up there with me and made the race perhaps a little bit harder than it was.
“I think Ferrari seem like they’re very, very quick and we need to stay on it to try to continue to compete with them,” he pointed out.
The 2008 world champion drove impeccably from pole position and went unchallenged throughout the 53-lap Italian GP.
"I could get used to this kind of boredom! But yes, it was really nice cruising. When I heard that Fernando got into second I asked myself, ‘How the hell did he get second?’” he said.
“But I really do enjoy racing with Fernando and I hope that we get to have lots more close battles,” he added.