Chinese GP - Alonso: "no doubt Ferrari will improve"
Shanghai, 15 April -- Eight degrees and a bitterly cold wind meant that Thursday at the Shanghai International Circuit seemed more like a winter testing scenario than the build up to the fourth round of the Formula 1 World
Championship. Fortunately, the heating was working in the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro media hospitality unit when it was time for Fernando Alonso
to answer questions from the press.
It is an F1 tradition that there is much talk about major technical updates for all teams, once the season moves to Europe and Alonso was asked if this could mean China would be the last weekend of Red Bull dominance. "Hopefully Malaysia was already the last weekend of Red Bull domination!" quipped the Spaniard with a smile. "Let's see what everyone does here. I don't think the whole picture will change in Barcelona. We will see some major evolutions in Europe, but usually, all the teams manage to improve so it is a case of seeing who finds one tenth, who finds three tenths and so on. I don't think it will affect the overall picture in terms of the grid positions. I expect Red Bull to be very strong all season, but at the moment, we are ahead of them on points. I have no doubt that Ferrari will improve considerably during the season and we also have the ability to bring improvements to the track very quickly, as the team has often demonstrated in the past ten years."
The Spaniard will, as a minimum target, want to do better than in Sepang. "It was difficult driving with a gearbox problem," he recalled. "I had to alter my driving style in an unnatural way and it took me a few laps to work out the best way to get through the corners, but as soon as it was a case of fighting with another driver, it was impossible to pass, as I could not brake late enough. Making sure we finish all the races from now on will be very important for the championship. In Malaysia, I was ninth when I retired, which is a better situation than having a DNF (Did Not Finish) when you are leading, as I only lost two points."
With only eight engines allowed per driver for the 19 races, losing one in the third race could look serious, but Alonso explained it was not a major cause for concern, especially as the failure was itself due to his gearbox problem. "Naturally, we don't want to have any more problems of this type or with the gearbox. However, at the moment, our engine useage plan has not changed too much, apart from doing higher mileages on our "Friday engines." By the end of the season these ones will be a little bit older, but in terms of the engines that will do Saturday and race day, we are still on our original plan, so I am not worried."