Fernando Alonso insists that he is not worried that he could be joining a Ferrari team in decline after seeing the Italian outfit fail to live up to past expectations in 2009.

The double world champion was finally confirmed as one of the Scuderia's 2010 drivers, alongside Felipe Massa, a month ago, but has seen the team struggle to match previous achievements, with neither the injured Massa or Kimi Raikkonen able to challenge consistently for race wins, falling short of the championship battle that both had been a part of in recent years.

However, having also struggled with the Renault team in 2008-09, Alonso is well aware of the factors that can make or break a season and, having helped the regie to two victories last season, is confident that Ferrari can be back on top next year.

"I'm not concerned at all," he told the official F1 website, "Both [Ferrari and McLaren] started at the back this season. I think McLaren started even worse, and now they have possibly the best car on the grid - but they have pushed with some new developments during the season, and Ferrari did not.

"If you compare this with last season, we were on the podium in Brazil, and everybody thought that Renault would have a very strong car this year. So the last races do not mean a lot in general. I think every first race is completely unknown for everybody."

Indeed, while McLaren pressed ahead with its development programme - allowing Lewis Hamilton to become a race winner after a barren start to his championship defence, Ferrari - and Renault - called a halt on work to pour its resources into its 2010 car.

"Aerodynamics was the key issue this year, and also for the last couple of years, but especially with the new rules for 2009, the philosophy of the car did not meet the new regulations and has not been good enough to be competitive," Alonso said of the R29, "Sometimes when we introduced new parts to the car, we were able to be the third fastest car in the field, but then we decided to stop developing the car further this year, and so did Ferrari, and concentrate more on next year's car. For sure, you are paying back at every race after you make this decision."

Asked whether using the remaining races in 2009 to prepare for 2010, Alonso admitted that there were too many detail changes that prevented data that could have been gathered from being relevant.

"The rules for next year will not change as dramatically as the ones for this year did, but the thinner front tyre and bigger [fuel] tanks will change some things," he confirmed, "We have to prepare the car in a totally different way, with the changed fuel loads, so this did not help us for this year.

"I am very sure that, before the first race of next season, we will not know who will have a competitive car so, in this respect, I am very happy that my new team stopped developing early and concentrated on next year."

Having already revealed that he does not know when he will make his test debut for the Prancing Horse, Alonso also confirmed that he would have little input into the design of the car, much of which would have been started around the beginning of the current season.

"We are only drivers and not engineers, especially me," he joked, "I will not get to drive the car, and this doesn't give me a lot of chances to give any input up until February 2010, when I'll get to drive for the first time. Until that point, I will try to understand how the team works and prepare for the winter testing as well as I can."

If he had been hoping to leave Renault on a high note after seven years - interrupted by a frustrating season at McLaren - Alonso was to be disappointed, for the R29 proved incapable of lifting him away from the back of the grid in Abu Dhabi. The Spaniard, however, was phlegmatic about the struggle.

"Arriving at the last race with the same car that you had for the last five months, it is just normal that you will end up at the back," he admitted, "We've spent most of this season's qualifying like this, in very difficult conditions. At the last couple of races, we managed to get through Q1, and even sometimes to get into Q3, and a few times the conditions have helped us, like Suzuka or Brazil, [but] today, where we have had no surprises and are at a circuit that is new to all of us, we have dropped out in Q1. This is more or less what we expected.

"Of course, it would have been nice with it being the very last race with Renault to get into the position of being able to win a race but, in this case, it is more like a dream, as we know where we are. We have not been competitive for the last part of the championship, but the team knows that I have done 100 per cent throughout the last seven years, so this has for sure not changed for the last race."

Comments

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment