Double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso has acknowledged that the sport's raft of new regulations for 2011 represents 'a challenge' – perhaps too much of one all in one go, he hints – and the Ferrari star has expressed some concerns about the rapid degradation and inconsistency of Pirelli's tyres.
Having led the way during the morning, Alonso ultimately wound up just fifth-quickest on the opening day of pre-season group testing around Valencia's Circuit Ricardo Tormo, some eight tenths of a second adrift of pace-setter and defending title-holder Sebastian Vettel – although on a more positive note, Ferrari's F150 scarcely missed a beat, which could not be said for all of the new contenders.
The Spaniard subsequently stepped things up a notch to record the fastest lap of anyone on day two, and whilst professing it a successful couple of days in the cockpit, he conceded that there remains a lot to learn in terms of the tyres and steering wheel-operated KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) and adjustable rear wing – admitting that it is a lot to try to take in with such restricted time in the seat ahead of the Bahrain curtain-raiser.
“The tyres degrade a lot, they are not very consistent at the moment and we are very limited in terms of the number of tyres as well,” the 29-year-old lamented, according to SPEED.com
. “You have to keep one set of tyres for the whole morning, and then maybe put one [set] for half of the afternoon and one at the end. It's difficult to make set-up changes and to really get an answer at the moment on those.
“These new buttons on the steering wheel are obviously not the easiest thing to use at the exit of corners. You lose concentration in your driving line or in your driving style, pure performance, but it's also something [with which] drivers who get used to the systems, and drivers who are trained more or are more clever on this can have an advantage.
“With the new F1, you have to try to get used to it better than the others – it's a challenge for all of us to try to do better than our colleagues, and we started step-by-step. Some laps we activated the KERS, some other laps we activated the rear wing, and then we started doing everything at the same time and getting used to it. [By the first] afternoon, everything was coming out automatically, so I think it's good. Jerez will be enough to be completely confident with everything.”
As to his own feeling at Ferrari twelve months on from his arrival at the legendary Scuderia
, Alonso reflected that he is now far more settled at the Maranello-based outfit – and as such, from his rivals' perspective, far more dangerous to-boot, with F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone having opined that the 26-time grand prix-winner 'will not so easily accept defeat' as in 2010.
“Obviously it's better this year,” he mused. “Last year it was really, really the first test, and a lot of excitement, a lot of emotions also, because it was [my] first time in a Ferrari. This year we approached the test in a better way, more relaxed – I know Ferrari, I know all the staff, I know also the programme for this test. We have two days; last year I only had one, so it was a lot of things to do in one day. This year we started more in a relaxed way and really focussed on the things we had to do. Last year was more like a demo than work!”