Alonso: Now I feel ready to fight

Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa with Emilio Botin, President of Santander holding the Flame On The Road 2010 Santander trophy and Book Of Inspirations.

Mar.11 (YF1) Fernando Alonso took part in his first FIA media conference as a Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver this afternoon, sitting alongside the man who took the Prancing Horse to so much success over the years – Michael Schumacher. “The racing. racing again,” said the Spaniard enthusiastically when asked what he was most looking forward to this weekend. Here are highlights of answers to questions directed at him.

Fernando Alonso at the F1 drivers photocall

New team, new challenges. What are the major challenges? What are the major changes?
Alonso: I think every time you change team you need to adapt yourself a little bit to the new people, the new philosophy of working, of preparing the season. It has been a great time so far. I have been very comfortable with the team from day one to now, so I think we arrive at the first race with a good preparation and ready for the fight.

Ferrari have been said to be one of the two top teams. Is that the way you see it?

Alonso: Not really. We are not comparing too much the times in winter or making many predictions for these first races. We have just been concentrating on our programme to try to be as prepared a possible for the first race. I think the four teams – Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari – any of the four teams can be a favourite for this race and for the first part of the championship with, I am sure, some teams also like Sauber and Force India, they will have a very good race as well. I think we will do our best. We are well prepared for this start of the season but we want to be World Champions in November, not in March. We will do our best but the goal is to win the championship and we know this is not easy at all and we need to work very hard for 10 months, so it is only the start.

If it was up to you and not working groups or the FIA, would you choose this year’s regulation regarding the refuelling ban and heavy cars at the start or last year’s regulation when it was a sprint from pit stop to pit stop?
Alonso: I am happy with any decision. It is just a new challenge for all of us. For the engineers, teams, drivers it is change in Formula One, so any change is normally welcome as it offers you the possibility of discovering some new area of our sport. I am happy with the change but I was happy last year. We will see. We need to give some time to the new regulations to see how the races are. If we see more overtaking, if not? Maybe the races are very spectacular or maybe the races are very boring. We need to wait and see a few races to see if the new regulations are working or not.

You’ve talked about settling in; do you think you’re ready to win? And what do you think of Michael coming back?
Alonso: Yes, I think I’m ready to win. Every time you arrive at the first race of the championship you’ve been preparing yourself all winter for this moment, so I’ve been waiting very long to be here at Ferrari as well, many years of preparation for this moment, so now I feel ready to fight and hopefully we’re in a position to do that. To have Michael here, OK -  it was a surprise for sure when he came back but as I said many times, it’s a very good thing for all of us, for all the drivers, for our sport and that can only help Formula One and because we are part of Formula One, all the drivers, it also helps us, so I am very happy that he’s here and hopefully we can have good fights.

In the past you have said Michael is the best driver in history. Now, Michael is back, do you believe the same? And a question for Michael: who could be your biggest rival this year?
Alonso: Yes, if I said that, it’s because I really think that. If you see the World Championships that Michael has it’s something that is impossible to repeat and part of the history in our sport, as I said. Looking at the numbers, Grand Prix wins, pole positions, championships etc, I think we all agree that Michael is the best ever, so I’m happy that he’s here and as I said, hopefully winning a championship or winning a Grand Prix with Michael on the track has more value, so we will try.