Madrid: Formula One championship leader Sebastian Vettel looks to get back to winning ways at this weekend's European Grand Prix, where Fernando Alonso is hoping to revive his dwindling title hopes with victory in front of his home fans at Valencia's street circuit.
Jenson Button's dramatic victory at the preceding Canadian GP was McLaren's second win from seven races, with Vettel winning the rest to establish a healthy 60-point lead over Button.
But Alonso, who trails Vettel by 92 points in fifth, is confident Ferrari can challenge the German Red Bull driver along the coastal course, which should provide another unpredictable race with the introduction of new tires and an extra overtaking area courtesy of the DRS adjustable rear wing.
"At the last two races we showed we were clearly capable of winning," Alonso said. "Now we go to a track with reasonably similar characteristics to Montreal and there is no obvious reason why we should not be competitive here, too."
Alonso was unlucky to go out of Montreal after a brush with Lewis Hamilton, who also needs a strong performance after several sub-par races dropped the McLaren driver from second to fourth behind Mark Webber.
Alonso looked strong in Canadian GP qualifying after coming second in Monaco but he failed to finish the race. The two-time world champion may soon run out of time to catch Vettel, who has rarely slipped up.
"So far this season, luck has not come our way," said Alonso, who came eighth in last year's race. "In the race in Montreal, not one damned thing went right."
Hamilton went out of Montreal after clipping Button. He had earlier nearly incurred a ban for unsportsmanlike behavior after finishing sixth in a turbulent race at Monaco.
While Hamilton will be trying to consolidate, Button will look to maintain his challenge on Vettel.
"I wouldn't say that winning in Montreal has given me extra motivation because I was already totally committed, but I think it will help to sharpen the focus and conviction of everyone in the team," said Button, the 2009 overall champion. "We've proved we can challenge and beat Sebastian."
The street circuit usually offers few overtaking opportunities but the addition of a second DRS zone could provide some extra excitement, while the introduction of a medium-compound tire will likely provide another challenge for what is expected to be a hot, humid race along the city's harbor on Sunday.
"It's a circuit that's yet to provide a phenomenal F1 race but we've seen some special ones this year, so hopefully this is an opportunity for Valencia to add its name to the list," said Webber, who walked away unscathed from a spectacular crash in last year's race when his car somersaulted through the air. "There's no reason why the car shouldn't perform well."
Red Bull has taken pole position for the last nine races stretching to last season.
Michael Schumacher hopes coming fourth in Montreal is a sign of things to come for Mercedes, as the seven-time champion continues to chase his first podium finish since coming out of retirement last year.
Sauber rookie Sergio Perez could also return after missing Canada following a crash in Monaco.
A clampdown on engine-mapping systems will also come into effect as teams will not be allowed to change settings between Saturday's qualifying and the 57-lap race. That could stop teams from running extreme setups to take qualifying since those settings will carry over.
Practice begins on Friday.