Ferrari's Fernando Alonso optimistic for title challenge

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer in Melbourne
Fernando Alonso in Melbourne
Fernando Alonso in Melbourne

Fernando Alonso says he is still hopeful of winning a third world title this year despite Ferrari's difficult preparations for the new season.

The team have struggled with a car the Spaniard describes as "quite complex in terms of set-up and understanding it".

But the 30-year-old insists the team can still have a good season.

"Maybe it takes time to maximise the potential of the car, but definitely we are in a good direction. We want to be world champions in November," he said.

Ferrari have taken a completely new design direction with this year's car after winning only one race in 2011, as Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel won the title with 11 victories.

The Italian team said at the launch of their new car, the F2012, that they were determined to be competitive from the start of the season.

But after struggling throughout pre-season testing, technical director Pat Fry said two weeks ago that he did not think Ferrari would be able to finish on the podium at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

The team have spent the intervening period analysing data from testing and, like all the leading teams, have brought a package of new parts to improve the performance of their car.

"At the moment we need to find how competitive we are," Alonso said, "but Ferrari chose an aggressive strategy (with the design of the car) and we needed to do it because we were behind.

"Let's see how we start - hopefully [we will] not [be] too far away."

He said the destiny of the title would be decided by which of the top teams could develop their car most effectively over the season.

"There is no secret that F1 in the last couple of years is about consistency - it is about improving the car every race," he said.

"It is something we have to do better than the others if we want to win the championship.

"I am in the best team. I have complete trust in the team and I know if everything goes well sooner or later we will fight for victories."

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