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Alonso and Hamilton prepare for Japan

Fernando Alonso and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton begin preparations for next month's Japanese Grand Prix with contrasting emotions following the incident-packed Singapore GP.

Alonso held off the challenge of Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel to register a second successive victory from pole to move to second in the title race, just 11 points behind Mark Webber, while Hamilton failed to earn a point for the third time in four races.

Hamilton had gearbox problems in Hungary and followed up on his reckless opening-lap manoeuvre with Felipe Massa in Italy by being forced to retire in Singapore after challenging Webber for third spot.

"I saw that Mark made a mistake," he said. "I tried to go in, the next thing I know was I was hit."

Instead of securing a podium finish, however, the 25-year-old Briton went out on lap 36 to drop 20 points behind Webber in the championship standings with four races remaining. Vettel lies one point further back, four clear of reigning champion Jenson Button.

"That's a big gap," admitted Hamilton. "I am going to just try and enjoy the rest of the season."

Hamilton's chances could drop even further if next month's inaugural Korean GP fails to take place as F1 rights holder Bernie Ecclestone fears. The Yeongam circuit ought to have been ready weeks ago, but is still awaiting its final inspection. A new deadline of 11 October has been set for the race which is scheduled to take place on 24 October.

"It's not good," said Ecclestone. "It should have been inspected maybe six weeks ago. It was inspected but it wasn't passed. We normally have a 90-day check before a race, and now we are sort of putting this off. It's quite dangerous what we've done actually, but it's a case of 'do we cancel the race or not?' They say it's all going to be okay, so we hope they are right." 

If the race is cancelled then Hamilton would have just three races to bridge the deficit. The situation for Hamilton and team-mate Button is exacerbated by the fact that McLaren looked off the pace of both Red Bull and Ferrari in Singapore.

Alonso has now outscored his rivals over the last five races but believes the title race remains very tight.

"All five contenders still have the same possibilities. Mark has a little bit more with still some margin to have a bad weekend not putting at risk the contention of the championship," he said. "For the others we need to keep catching if we can. We will do our best. We do not know if it will be enough to become champion in (the final race in) Abu Dhabi. But we will give 100 per cent."

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