Q and A with Fernando Alonso
After missing the first pre-season test of the year in Jerez whilst he concentrated on preparing himself physically for the 2013 season, Fernando Alonso was back behind the wheel at Barcelona on Tuesday.
|Fernando Alonso in the garage at Barcelona|
The 31-year-old Spaniard, who finished a close second in last year’s world championship, completed 110 laps of the demanding Circuit de Catalunya as he acquainted himself with Ferrari’s F138 machine. Afterwards, he spoke to the media about his first impressions of the new car and his determination to - once again - challenge for the title in 2013…He talks to Formula1.com
Q: Fernando, how are you feeling physically after doing 110 laps in the new car on your first day of testing?
Fernando Alonso: I feel fine. Just the neck is a bit stiff, but that is what happens on the first day - no matter what neck training you are doing - as the car is a killer on that. Doing over 100 laps in Barcelona is quite a challenge on your first day back at work! The car was more or less what I expected. It is a continuation of the car from Brazil 2012, let’s say. It is a very similar feeling - I have the same seat, the same pedals, the same everything, so when you jump into the car more-or-less the performance should be the same as it was in Brazil. That was a good start - not like last year when we drove for the first time and were a little bit surprised on the bad side. In the next couple of days a lot of work is waiting for us with the tires, the aerodynamics, with some new components, and of course we have to focus on doing a lot of mileage. In Jerez we had some mechanical problems - especially with Pedro (de la Rosa) who lost one whole morning - so we need to put a good number of laps into this test to prove that the car is strong enough to race.
Q: With very few rules changes ahead of the 2013 season, do you feel more optimistic for the year ahead?
FA: Not really. That the rules haven’t changed much doesn’t trigger my optimism. We need to improve the car a lot compared to last year. At the end of the year we were quite far from Red Bull and McLaren. We’ve been in a group with Force India, behind Lotus and Sauber. We cannot belong to this group - we know that. We need to be in the group of the leaders and for this we need to do a good job this winter. Now we are trying some parts on the car. We will try more at the last test - and more will arrive in Australia, so the Friday in Australia will also be crucial. For sure, we need to arrive in a better position than we finished. Our competitors are doing a pretty good job so Australia will be very interesting. The only quantum of optimism that I have for 2013 is that I fought for the championship last year with a car that was two seconds off the pace in winter. At the first four races we had finishes of P9 in China and P7 in Bahrain, so even with all those problems with the car we were fighting for the world championship. If we overcome our bad start of 2012 - and think positive - there is no reason for us not to fight for the championship again this year if we only improve the car a bit.
Q: Taking what you’ve just said, could it be that it will be so close this season that you will not be able to do what you did last year? You might have been able to close the gap to last year’s cars, but what if others have found another second?
FA: What I said is that the feeling of the car is similar to last year as there haven’t been big changes, but I didn’t say anything of the range of things that we’ve found on our route to improve the car. I am sure that we will be strong in Australia. We need to improve from where we were last year because obviously it was not enough - we finished second and we want to finish first. So our immediate goal to improve in the first half of the year shouldn’t be that difficult. We are relatively confident.
Q: With the large amount of tire degradation - on all cars - how difficult is it to know where you stand with your own car, let alone how you compare to others?
FA: Well, first and foremost we concentrate on us. Sure, it is difficult under such conditions to test if you have a tire that lasts only one lap, as we have an immense program to run through. We need to evaluate so many things, so it is rather difficult to have only one lap to understand what you’ve put on the car if after that you’re two, four, six seconds off the pace. But the good news is that it is the same for everybody. What we have to do here is to understand the tires better than the others, to make them last as long as possible and to get as much data as possible.