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.