Fernando Alonso warns Ferrari need a ‘new direction’

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer in Melbourne

Fernando Alonso has warned Ferrari need a rapid re-think on their new Formula 1 car if he is to have any chance of challenging for the title.

The Spaniard qualified only 12th for the Australian Grand Prix after spinning off and the team admit the car is not competitive.

"We are a little bit too slow at the moment," said Alonso.

"We need to change the direction quickly if we are to challenge for the championship. We have to react."

Alonso's team-mate Felipe Massa could only qualify in 16th for the race in Melbourne's Albert Park.

The Ferrari drivers have been struggling with the car throughout the weekend - a situation that was expected after a difficult time in pre-season testing.

The team took a radical approach to this year's car in an attempt to challenge world champions Red Bull but appear to have made some fundamental errors in design.

Alonso said: "We are not competitive to fight for the top places at the moment, it is something we maybe knew or expected after winter testing.

"There is still a lot of work to do, we have to be more united than ever, we have to work.

"I'm sure we worked 24 hours a day before this race; now we need to work 25. It is the only way to improve the car and win races soon.

"The target was to start the championship with a competitive car.

"We didn't arrive at that target, we need to arrive as soon as possible with a winning car in the next couple of races."

Alonso would almost certainly have made it into the top-10 shoot-out had he not spun off in second qualifying.

The time that put him 12th was set on used tyres. He spun on the first corner of his first lap with new tyres, which would be in the region of 0.5 seconds quicker and he missed out by less than 0.2secs.

But Alonso put a brave face on the incident, saying it might put him in a better position for the race.

"I think I touched the grass and unfortunately there is the gravel and you stop and finish qualifying. It's a shame. I think we possibly could be a bit better, maybe top 10.

"If you go in Q3 you have no new tyres for the race so maybe at the end of the day it is a good compromise to be P12 with new tyres."

Asked if this was the worst car with which he had ever started a season, he replied: "No I don't think so, I think there were some championships we started more far away.

"For example last year, we started 1.4secs off pole position last year, today we were one second, so in a way we are closer than last year."

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