Fernando Alonso says that Ferrari can still fight for the World Championship this year, despite the impressive form shown by rivals in Australia.
In recent years, Alonso has had to fight with what was often the third or fourth best car in the field, but this time he sees the possibility to catch up.
“I think that we have more potential than what we saw in Australia, first of all,” he said in Malaysia today. “I think we need to put everything in place and have a better weekend. We also understand that we need to improve, especially with the Mercedes cars, they seem very strong. But we have the potential. I think the team has the facilities, the team has the talent, to do a very good job.
“We are strong and we should be strong. We will do better, I’m pretty sure. We know that it has not been a perfect start, it seems like a repetition of the past couple of years, but these are different rules, a different rate of developing this year, and the hope is still perfectly there.”
Reminded that in 2012 he came to Malaysia and won with an uncompetitive car, Alonso said that a repeat was unlikely – but he hasn’t given up hope.
“If we approach this weekend thinking that we will win the race like we did in 2012, it’s definitely optimistic. Why not? In F1 anything can happen. But I think what we saw in 2012, we see one time in life.
“We need to see how the next races go, in terms of our own performance, and see how we can develop quickly the car and be in a little bit better shape in Australia. As we said at the end of the race, we were not happy with the performance we showed, and that we need to improve as soon as possible. We have to work hard and race hard in the next couple of Grands Prix, and deliver some results.”
Meanwhile, Alonso didn’t want to join in with any criticism of the new rules – and made some interesting observations about how his words might be interpreted.
“This is a very uncomfortable matter to speak about. If I say I like this F1, it will be criticized because this is not anymore F1 for most of the fans. If I say that I don’t like this F1, fans will criticize [me] and say I only liked it when I win before.
“It’s the same with the performance. If you say that you are more or less happy with the fourth in Australia because you finished the race, you are not motivated anymore and you’re not hungry for success. If you say that you want to win and we don’t have the performance, then you are criticizing the team. So it’s very difficult when you have the microphone to talk about anything in this difficult contest.
“We need to give it a little bit more time. I understand the disappointment of the Australian race from the fans point of view, because the race was probably not as we thought. There was a lot of talk before the race about how exciting will be this new F1, how many cars will finish, maybe zero, if there finish zero cars how they will do it, the safety car will go out, all these sorts of things were talked about before the race.
“When 15 cars finished and there were not many problems and not many overtakings, people were maybe not expecting that. We need to give a little bit more time. Maybe here we’ll have a fantastic race, a fantastic show. The weather can play an important part here and create a very good scenario for the race, so we’ll see.”