Ferrari's Fernando Alonso says early-2013 race win would still be a 'surprise'
But reckons repeat of '12 Sepang weather could offer victory chance
Last Updated: 19/03/13 2:37pm
Fernando Alonso has suggested it would "surprise" him if Ferrari won a race in the opening flyaway leg of the new season despite the team being in far better shape than this time last year.
After enjoying a far more straightforward winter with their new car compared to 2012, Ferrari have started the new campaign among the leading group of teams, with their pre-season preparations having given them what Alonso says is "a little bit more confidence about this championship".
Nonetheless, despite the substantial improvement from one winter to the next, Alonso still reckons further consistent podium finishes are the logical target for the opening weeks of the season in dry conditions.
"It will be a surprise to be honest if we win one of the first races," he told Sky Sports' Rachel Brookes.
"It will be welcome for sure, but we need some strange conditions - maybe like last year in Malaysia, rain or something. But in normal conditions I think the podium is more or less the maximum target we have to ask [for]."
In addition to improving the fundamental pace of their car for 2013, Ferrari had also set the target of maintaining the high operational and reliability records they attained last season, which saw Alonso suffer no race-ending mechanical retirements.
The Spaniard acknowledges that trying to match those feats will be tough but also reckons there is room for improvement in certain areas - no more so than in qualifying, Ferrari's Achilles heel for several years.
"We need to repeat it," he said of 2012. "It will be difficult to repeat what we did last year - maximising the potential of the car at every race. We faced some tough conditions during the year with the car, it was performing a little bit better sometimes, not so good other times.
"We need to repeat that kind of performance and to improve some of the mistakes we did last year. We have been unlucky in Spa, we've been unlucky in Suzuka. Maybe without [it being] our fault we were out of the race.
"But behind this bad luck there is maybe something we can improve. If we don't start eighth or sixth or something in the races you avoid some of the troubles in the first corner. So we need to start from a little bit better position and we need to start more often in the front row of the grid. There are things we can improve."
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The double World Champion, who was speaking to Sky Sports prior to his second-place finish at the season-opener in Australia last weekend, added that if Ferrari again found themselves in the title hunt all the way down to the wire they had to seize the opportunity this time.
Asked what he needed to do differently to ensure he ended his seven-year wait for a third world title, Alonso replied: "We need to change the final result. That's the only thing we can improve from last year.
"We've been three years now in Ferrari, two of them we fight for the championship until the last race. In both occasions we finished second and this year we want to change the final result.
"Hopefully we are able to fight for the World Championship, that is the first thing you need to make sure because not every year you have that possibility. So we want to have this possibility to be in the fight until the last moment and if we are in the fight until the last moment don't lose the possibility this year. "