2011 yet again hasn't quite worked out the way Ferrari and Fernando Alonso would have liked given the optimism and obvious calibre of the team, but there is confidence ahead of next season.
Alonso has only accrued a single win this season, with victory sending the Spaniard to the top step of the rostrum at Silverstone, as he made the most of the changeable conditions.
Team-mate Felipe Massa has yet to achieve a podium this season and is in danger of becoming the first Ferrari driver since Ivan Capelli in 1992 to go through a season without scoring a podium. Massa certainly doesn't look like threatening the rostrum this weekend either, judging from his practice form – summing up Ferrari's woes.
But Alonso has reason to believe his prancing horse will have much more to offer next season, indicating Italy's finest have made some promising strides in time for 2012.
“I am confident to be fighting for the championship again next year and what makes me confident is that I am with Ferrari," Alonso told the Times of Malta
. “I am quite happy from a personal point of view [with] how 2011 went, how the team approached this season and how we improved in areas where last year we were weak, so overall it is much stronger this year than last.
“Now I feel, with a competitive car, we can be very, very strong and we can be fighting for the world championship.”
The double world champion clearly confident in his own abilities and that has evidently been translated into the Spaniard notably outperforming his car and his team mate, but still concedes a victory at Sao Paulo this weekend remains unlikely in normal conditions.
“Maybe with the possibility of rain or something on Sunday, maybe we can see a more unusual race with not always Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari as in the first five or six races,” he said, “But I think that is, well, very difficult. And very unlikely. We were expecting some good competitiveness of the car in India, Korea and Abu Dhabi, but we also hoped for some strange races – like in Korea, for example, we expected some rain or some more factors in the race.
“But we had very standard races in the last four or five, with dry weekends all the way through and with the potential at the moment of Red Bull and McLaren, we were nowhere near victories. So, here, I think it will not change too much. A victory remains very unlikely, but we will have to go for it.”
by Simon Evans