Having outscored all of his F1 2011 rivals over the last three grands prix despite not benefitting from the fastest car in the field, Fernando Alonso has asserted that he is the best he has ever been – and that over the remainder of the campaign, Ferrari 'must try and win as many races as possible'.
Alonso has been the form man ever since his victory at Silverstone last month, although in truth, the beginning of his and Ferrari's renaissance had come in Monaco a few races earlier still. That has prompted the Scuderia's
team principal Stefano Domenicali to describe the double world champion as 'the number one driver in F1 at the moment' and 'even better' than record-breaking legend Michael Schumacher in some respects [see separate story – click here
Whilst modestly shirking such an assessment, as he reflects upon the opening half of the season during Ferrari's summer Wrooom event at Madonna di Campiglio in the Italian Dolomites, the Spaniard does concede that he is right at the top of his game at present.
“I don't know what to say, except that I immediately felt comfortable at Ferrari,” he confessed, “but it would be very difficult to repeat what Michael did, because things are very different now to what they were a decade ago. Having said that, I am currently experiencing the best years of my career – and that makes me very optimistic for the future.
“All drivers want to race for Ferrari, and that makes me feel even more privileged, because I am at Ferrari now and I will be for many years to come. I feel much more part of the team than I did a year ago; in terms of driving, I don't think I've ever been this strong.”
“This has not been such a bad season for us so far,” he added, rating it a seven-out-of-ten. “Sure, the beginning was very difficult – we had hoped for a better start, but we did not manage it. In China, we went through what was possibly the worst point, because not only were we not fighting for the win with McLaren and Red Bull, but we were also behind Mercedes and maybe Renault. However, after that, we reacted well – [although] we still lack a little something in all areas, including from the drivers, to be at the level of the best.
“I think what's been done [with the organisational changes at Ferrari] has been very positive and, in any case, you don't just change things for the sake of change, but in order to improve. From my point-of-view, I feel there is a greater will to move forward, more speed and daring in taking some decisions. There is a greater feeling of optimism, more determination and I think the results of that are already evident in the first phase of the design of next year's car.
“We are working well, with a lot of creativity; we hope the car will be a surprise from this point-of-view, but most of all, we hope it's quick. Already this year, we have seen cars that have been considered very interesting and extreme and then they haven't delivered the results.”
Before setting his sights on next year, however, Alonso remains firmly focussed on doing his utmost to overturn the current 89-point deficit separating him from Red Bull Racing's runaway world championship pace-setter Sebastian Vettel in the title standings. Laying out one simple approach, although clinching a third drivers' crown will inarguably be the tallest of orders, the Spaniard is adamant that admitting defeat is not in Ferrari's DNA.