Mar.23 (F1 Media) Fernando Alonso has insisted that Ferrari can still challenge for this year’s Formula 1 titles, despite a troubled start to the season in Australia last weekend.
The Spanish driver could only qualify 12th in Melbourne, after sliding off track in Q2, while team-mate Felipe Massa didn’t get that far, being knocked out in the first 20-minute segment of the session and lining up 16th on the grid. In the race Alonso recovered to take fifth but Massa was forced to retire.
Alonso, though, believes the team can recover and said he is relaxed about the team’s ability to challenge for the championships. “I’m calm,” he said during the official FIA press conference at Sepang circuit ahead of this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix. “Obviously, knowing we need to work, we need to catch up to the guys in front. We are not in the situation we wanted to start the 2012 championship but after 11 years in Formula One I think you understand how long the championship is, what you need when you have the best and what you need when you don’t have the best car.
“As far as our targets and our goals (are concerned), we need to score as many points as possible in this couple of races and in a very short period of time try to be on the podium and win races,” he added. “If we manage to do that we have plenty of races to recover the gap. If we don’t manage to do that it’s because someone else did a better job than us. We just need to wait and see but I have 100 per cent trust in the team.”
Alonso added that while Ferrari have struggled to match arch-rivals Red Bull Racing and McLaren since he joined the Scuderia, the team remains positive. “This is Formula One. There is not an easy time for anybody,” he said.
“We needed to work hard every day and night to catch up in these three years. But the experience has been fantastic. As you all know, (we were) fighting for the world championship in the first year and then last year (we had) one win and ten podiums. Obviously, the target is always to win the world championship but it was not possible in the last two years.
“This year we are convinced that we will fight for it,” he concluded. “We need to stay focused and work more than the others knowing that we are a little bit behind now. But the championship is long. We stay calm, we stay focused, because we see a lot of determination in the team. We see the team with a very good atmosphere, (we) trust each other in the team, we are very united, so the time will come to us very soon.”