Fernando Alonso said on Thursday that while he was hoping for improved form for Ferrari in Malaysia, there was no logical reason why the car would be better, given that it essentially will be unchanged.
The Spaniard also made it clear that his hard-won fifth place in Australia was helped by problems for the likes of Michael Schumacher and Romain Grosjean.
“Hopefully, yes, but I don't think so, to be honest,” said Alonso. “We have been testing at different circuits—Jerez, Barcelona and then in Australia with more or less the same car, with the same problems on it. The cars are nearly identical for everybody compared with Australia, I guess, so I don't think there will be big surprises here.
“Let's wait and see and try to adapt the car to the circuit, the conditions, the heat. Then, yes, the qualifying. We saw the true performance; we are not as competitive as we want, probably, but then in the race anything can happen. In Australia with a good start and the stops and the strategy you can put yourself in a decent place. We will try to do a similar race here and try to defend as many points as possible.”
He conceded that the team had been playing catch up in all three seasons since he joined.
“We need to work hard every day and night to normally catch up people in these three years. But anyway, you know, the experience has been fantastic. As you all know, fighting for the world Championship in the first year, and then last year with one win and 10 podiums. Obviously, the target is always to win the world championship, but it was not possible the last two years.
“This year we are convinced that we will fight for it. 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,” Alonso said.
“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—which is sometimes more points or less points.
“But as for as our targets and our goals, we need to score as many points as possible in these couple of races and in a very short period of time try to be on the podium and win races. 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 percent trust in the team.”
Alonso said he was making no predictions about the speed of Ferrari's recovery.
“I don't think it will be one race in which we change the car. I think at every race we will try to make improvements as we did over the last few years, and it won't be just for us; I think everyone will make updates at every race. We just need to make ours work a little bit more.
“Obviously we have a little advantage from that, because our car needs more speed, and maybe it's easier for us to find than for some others whose cars are maybe more developed than ours. New parts will slowly come at every race and hopefully they work, but there's not one magic race or one magic moment when we think things can change. I think we will work day and night and as I said before, the team is very focused on that, and I see great reaction from everybody, so I expect a strong Ferrari soon.”