Fernando Alonso admits Ferrari won't be so lucky in future if they don't improve car
Both driver and team admit quicker package top target for 2013
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 26/11/12 6:29pm
Fernando Alonso: Rarely found himself ahead of the pack on pace alone
Fernando Alonso suspects Ferrari won't again be able to get away with mounting such a serious challenge for the world championship in future years if they don't improve the competitiveness of their car.
By common consent the Spaniard was only driving at best the third-fastest outright challenger on the grid on a regular basis during the course of the season, the F2012's struggles over a single qualifying lap underlined by the fact that the team failed to claim a pole in dry conditions all year.
Reflecting on his eventual title near-miss and where Ferrari needed to improve to go one better in 2013, Alonso admitted it had been a "strange" season in which the team's operational and reliability strength had compensated for a fundamental lack of pace - but that they probably won't be so lucky next time if they don't produce a faster package.
"For future, I think we need to improve the car," he said in the post-race press conference.
"I think we have the best team in terms of approaching the races, preparing the races. Zero mechanical problems, zero problems for the year. Good pit stops, good starts, good strategy.
"But we were too slow. We were behind the Red Bulls, behind the McLarens, and now in the last couple of Grands Prix, behind Williams, Force India. We were clearly slower than them in pace.
"So this is something we must improve next year because we cannot fight for a world championship if we are too slow. We can be a little bit slower but not that much. And this year it was something strange, combinations that allowed us to fight until the end but I'm not sure we'll be this lucky in the future."
Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali also stressed that while their immaculate team work should be considered a strength in their armoury, they were aware they needed a quicker car - particularly for qualifying.
Asked what the team were going to do ensure they come out of the blocks with a faster car than they did this year, the Italian replied: "This is a fact but don't forget that in the last four races we have scored more points. We were the best on average in managing the pit stops, strategy, the best on the reliability - these are facts.
"You correctly said we didn't have the fastest car. For sure this is something we need to work hard on for the future and we have of course ideas. We also know that unfortunately we have paid a big price for the qualifying that hurts our performance in the race.
"We are trying to develop the areas of the car that were not the best and that's why I'm confident we should be in a different position at the start of the new season."
But he alluded to outright speed not being the be-all-and-end-all to a championship success, pointing to the fact that McLaren - which won seven races compared with Ferrari's three - finished behind them in the Constructors' Championship.
"My view is if you took the start of the season the best car was McLaren, and maybe at the end," Domenicali added. "You win the championship if you were the best car in terms of performance, the best reliability, strategy, the best team and so on - and they are third. So this is something that for sure for us is important to remember.
"We know that we have a good basis in other areas, we need to improve on what is the weakest point."