Ferrari number one Fernando Alonso has said he should start the coming season in a much stronger position than twelve months ago, as the team's 2011 contender will have been much more developed around his driving style.
Alonso mounted a serious challenge for his third F1 drivers' title last year, but ultimately lost out at the season finale in Abu Dhabi due to a bad strategic call. Speaking at the Scuderia's traditional pre-season 'Wrooom' event at the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort in the Italian Dolomites, Alonso added that not being new to the team will be a definite advantage when he heads to Bahrain for the season opener in March.
“When I arrived at the team in 2010 the car was already prepared whereas this year, thanks to the reciprocal relationship between me and the engineers, we've been able to try to introduce everything that can be influenced by the driver,” he told reporters. “That includes the cockpit, the controls, the behaviour of the car based on driving style – that will be much more adapted to me compared with last year.”
So what can he do in 2011?
“It would be nice to repeat 2010 – to be able to fight for the championship until the end,” he continued. “I think that it will be possible but we will begin to find out in the winter tests. We are totally focused on preparing in the best way to win both the titles.”
Indeed Alonso is convinced a lot has been learned from last year: “At the end of every season you do an assessment: we know that there are areas where we must improve while seeking to keep up our strengths,” he added.
“We lost so many points in the first part of the year and we know that we will have to be perfect from March to November to win. We've made some changes inside the team that I'm sure will help improve things – as you have to do in every field, not just sport. I know Pat Fry very well, having worked with him at McLaren, and I think that he can be a big help to us.”
Fry joined Ferrari back in the summer and was made head of race track engineering earlier this month, when Chris Dyer was made the scapegoat for the botched strategy call at the Yas Marina Circuit. Alonso though isn't dwelling on that: “Certainly after the race you can say that decision was wrong and we should have acted differently. But at the moment that we chose to come into the pits it seemed the right move to us.
“Now we can stand here and say the degradation of the soft tyres evolved in a surprising manner and that we could have stayed on the track until lap 30 but it's easy to say that now.
“The truth is that, as I've always said, even if they seem predictable words, you win and you lose together. If it's true that you learn more from defeats than victories it's also true that for me 2010 was a success. It's no longer worth thinking about Abu Dhabi: one minute more given to this means a minute less to dedicate to this year's work.”