NASCAR

Alonso: Ferrari has to improve to contend in 2014

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SAO PAULO (AP)

Fernando Alonso says Ferrari won't contend for the Formula One title next year unless it finds more speed.

Heading into the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, Alonso says he's proud to have already secured second place in the drivers' championship, but he said things will have to change if the team wants more than a runner-up finish in 2014.

''In the performance point of view we need to do better for next year if we want to fight for the championship,'' Alonso said. ''We were not good enough compared to Red bull and Sebastian.''

Sebastian Vettel cruised to his fourth world title this year, leaving the rest of the field and teams fighting for second. The German has won eight straight races going into Sunday's grand prix in Sao Paulo.

''We started the year thinking about the world championship, so when you don't get the world championship it's not a good enough season, and we need to do things better for next year,'' he said.

Ferrari hasn't been competitive since the middle of the season, Alonso added. The two-time champion achieved two wins and a second in the first five races, but in the last five his best finish was fourth.

Ferrari was outpaced by Red Bull along with everyone else, but it also struggled to keep pace with Mercedes and Lotus for most of the season.

''Last year we finished second and we had a strange taste after the last race because you've been so close to winning the championship,'' he said. ''But this year the second place in the championship feels much better, tastes much better. We clearly don't have the second fastest car so I feel very proud.''

Alonso was contending for the title in last year's Brazilian GP, but Vettel's sixth-place finish was enough to secure him the trophy.

Alonso said the reopening of Ferrari's wind tunnel this year may give the team the edge it needs to get closer to Red Bull in 2014. The tunnel was closed for nearly a year for renovation and improvements, forcing Ferrari to use other facilities.

''We tried to do the best we can,'' Alonso said. ''Obviously, the tools we have in the factory were limited this year with our own wind tunnel closed, which is not an excuse but I think for next year we will have better tools.''

Alonso said the highlight of the year was his victory at home in Barcelona.

''I won two grand prix this year, one in China, the other in Barcelona, in front of my home crowd and with all the support I had it was a fantastic event for me,'' the Spaniard said. ''That day has left me with the best memories.''

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