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Pirelli tire degradation may not help Ferrari
During an event organized by Ferrari sponsor Santander Bank, in Madrid, Fernando Alonso had the opportunity to speak  about the upcoming 2011 F1 World Championship.  Though clearly reserving to pass judgment on where the F150th Italia single-seater stands compared to the others until the first race of the season,  Fernando did reveal a few insights about the cars’ use of the new Pirelli tires while reiterating the fact that managing tire degradation will play a central role in 2011.

“We will only really know where we stand compared to the others when we are in Melbourne,”

“From what we have seen so far, degradation is very significant, which means we will have races with lots of pit stops,” exclaimed Fernando.

During the recent F1 testing in Barcelona, numerous outside observers noted that Ferrari were very kind to its tires compared to even the reigning world champions Red Bull.    So much so, that McLaren driver Jenson Button believes that Ferrari are the team to beat when it comes to race pace.

“…Ferrari on the long runs seem to be two seconds quicker than everyone else.

“What is interesting is people’s consistency – that’s when you can really see if they have a good car.

“Ferrari does look competitive in terms of consistency but so do a lot of others and the Red Bull looks pretty good but not as good as the Ferrari.” said the Briton.

Fernando Alonso did not dismiss that Ferrari may have in hand an advantage when it comes to preserving tires, the team’s cars having displayed great tire preservation characteristics in the past, but did add that the increased uncertainty associated with additional pit stops required to cope with increased wear may not favor the top teams.

“I’m not keen on that (referring to increased number of pit stops)  because I think this increased uncertainty does not favor the strongest teams: it’s as if in football, it was decided to have a penalty per team each half hour in which case Barcelona and Real Madrid would not be jumping for joy.  However, the situation is the same for everyone.”

Fernando also made it clear, that even if Ferrari cope with tire degradation better than the rest, this advantage may not be as significant as those like McLaren’s Button suggest.  A two second per lap advantage would mean Ferrari needing one stop less than their rivals.  Not so according to Alonso.

“…it will be important to be fastest, because I don’t think we can make one stop less than our main rivals.” commented the Spaniard.

About the only thing Alonso was confident about was the reliability displayed by the car during testing thus far.

“At the moment, I am happy because we proved to have a reliable car. If all goes to plan, we will be in the group of teams capable of fighting for the title, along with Red Bull the reigning champions, McLaren, Mercedes and also Renault, who had already made a step forward towards the end of last season. Even Toro Rosso has made significant progress.”

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