Fernando Alonso has admitted that the next round of the F1 season in Barcelona will be a 'key moment' for Ferrari, although the Spaniard insists that the race is far from decisive as the team attempts to stay in contention for the title.
Ferrari introduced the first phase of a major upgrade package on the final day of running in Mugello, with Alonso ending the day with the third quickest time behind Romain Grosjean and Sebastian Vettel.
Speaking afterwards, Alonso said he was pleased with the performance of the 'small' updates introduced at the Italian circuit with more work now set to be carried out back at base prior to the Spanish Grand Prix next weekend.
“The feeling I have after the test is a positive one,” he said. “We have introduced a few small, and I stress that word, aerodynamic updates, that have produced the response we were expecting and that is the most positive news, which means I am confident for the future, in the short and the long term. It means that what we see in the factory in Maranello has now also been confirmed on track. Furthermore, we have worked on other areas, especially the tyres, doing short and long runs, on set-up and also on starts, given we were also trying out a new clutch.
“I cannot say if today at Mugello we can claim to have made up some ground, but in Barcelona, we will have more important updates and we hope that there, we can begin to close down the gap that separates us from the teams currently at the top. We have decided to favour development time in the wind tunnel rather than bringing forward all the new components to this test. Sure, it would be nice to be able to test all the updates on track first, but it is also nice that we can count on all the possible development potential for every single part.”
Alonso added that he didn't expect Ferrari to suddenly be fighting for pole when the field arrives at Catalunya and said Spain would be the first step on the team's move back towards the front.
“Barcelona will be a key moment in the season, but not a decisive one,” he said. “It's not a case that we will suddenly find ourselves back on pole position, because there is no magic button. We must start by no longer struggling to get through to Q3 and get closer to the top six, then continue with development in the following races, making a step forward in Monaco, Canada and Valencia also.
“That is the only way in which we can contemplate finding these seven or nine tenths – it's hard to assess exactly how far off we are on the basis of the first races – which separate us from the leaders. Certainly, I am not denying that next weekend's event is a significant one: we cannot allow ourselves to struggle to get into Q3 if we want to fight for the title.”