Fernando Alonso insists that Ferrari's 1-2 finish in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix does not make the Scuderia favourites to dominate this year's Formula One campaign.
Speaking after leading team-mate Felipe Massa to the chequered flag in a largely uneventful 49-lap race – the first under F1's new 'no refuelling' regulations – Alonso pointed to the performance of other teams through the weekend as reason to believe that Ferrari would face stiff competition in what many are forecasting to be the most closely-contested championship in years.
“The eight drivers in the top four teams are contenders for the championship,” the Spaniard maintained, “Maybe this is only the first race, but we saw the potential of the Mercedes in free practice and Q1, and we saw the potential of the McLaren today, being on the podium. We saw the potential of Red Bull, that they were quicker than us in qualifying, and maybe a little bit quicker than us in the race as well. And, of course, [there is] Felipe, with the same car…. There will be races that one of us will win and some races that the other will win.”
With interesting intra-team rivalries up and down the pit-lane, and his own history of acrimonious partnerships – Alonso was quick to underline the harmony that currently exists at Ferrari, even if some of his comments in the post-qualifying press conference appeared more than a little pointed.
“First of all, [Felipe]'s not an enemy, maybe a rival but not an enemy,” he underlined, “The important thing is to score many more points for the team and, hopefully, both
Ferrari drivers will be on the podium.
“I think this will depend track to track. Here in Bahrain, for whatever reason, it was a little bit better for us, maybe we go to Australia for the next race and Mercedes or McLaren or whoever is a little bit ahead of everybody. We need to understand this and prepare our car perfectly for each grand prix, in terms of set-up, in terms of developing a programme in the wind tunnel, engine-wise and so on. There is a package that is a combination of many things that we need to get ready.
"I start from zero again in Australia, and we can have a bad race at any time, if we make some little mistakes or we are not fully concentrated, so we need to take each grand prix like a new one, like the last one. We need to do solid races now, at the beginning of the championship, and come back to Europe with some good points."
Having been out-qualified by his new team-mate, Alonso made a decisive move on Massa to claim second place on lap one, putting himself in prime position to inherit the lead when Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel ran into engine problems.
“The start was good,” the double world champion admitted, “I think being on the clean line here is a difference. There is a bit of sun close to the walls, so the start was more or less okay and the first corner was also good and I was lucky to overtake Felipe.