Alonso ready for Ferrari’s big test
MONTREAL - Agence France-Presse
Spanish rider Fernando Alonso of Ferrari is leading the standings in what looks like the closest Formula One World Championship title race in years. EPA photoChampionship leader Fernando Alonso believes this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix will reveal Ferrari’s potential to sustain their fight for world championship glory.
The Italian team struggled during winter testing and were a long way off the pace at the season-opening race in Montreal. In spite of this and in conjunction with this season’s memorable start to the season, in which six different drivers have won the opening six races, double-champion Alonso picked up a win in Malaysia and podiums in Spain and Monaco.
The Spaniard now holds a three-point lead over Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Australian Mark Webber.
The 30-year-old admitted the Montreal track will be Ferrari’s biggest test since the start of the season, but believes they have done enough to stay competitive.
“I think we have improved the car in these areas since the beginning of the season and Canada will be a good test in this respect,” he said.
“Hopefully this weekend we will see a competitive Ferrari and that will be very important for us, not just for this race but also for the rest of the season.
“It’s hard to say in advance, as this season has been so unpredictable with ups and downs for everyone over the course of six races.
“However, I don’t see any reason why Ferrari should not be competitive in Canada, fighting for the top places come the end of the race.” Despite leading the title race, Alonso believes Ferrari still have a lot of catching up to do.
‘Ultimate target is the championship’
He said: “Leading the championship is only the beginning, it’s a starting point, because the ultimate target is leading the championship after the final race in Brazil in November.
“It’s a long championship and the first six races brought us enough points to be in the lead, but we are well aware that we have to improve.
“We need to make the car faster, working hard, while making no mistakes and finding consistency, which is not the easiest thing to do in this championship.” In contrast his team-mate, Brazilian Felipe Massa, has had a difficult time in the other Ferrari, only managing two top ten finishes.
The 30-year-old insisted he was feeling more positive after a stronger performance in Monaco two weeks ago and hopes he can carry the momentum to the Montreal track.
However, Massa did admit that he was not happy with his start to the season and insisted he would be doing everything he could to improve his performance.
“I definitely feel more confident now,” he said.
“I feel stronger as well and it’s also true that if Monaco was a good race, I was not that happy because, after the work I had done right from first practice, I had expected to be fighting for a podium finish.
‘We cannot be satisfied yet’
“It was very good compared to the start of the season, but we cannot be satisfied and now I want us to work hard to get something more. If we find the right direction, I know what I can do.” Last year’s Canadian Grand Prix winner, Jenson Button, said he felt “’extremely proud” returning to the track he hailed as his greatest ever win.
But the McLaren driver insisted he would be focusing on his qualifying pace having started the last two Grands Prix in 10th and 12th position.