Fernando Alonso insists that the Spanish Grand Prix back in May was the race where Ferrari finally came good with its F2012, with the upgrade introduced at Catalunya having been the catalyst for the Spaniard establishing himself as a championship contender.
Although he managed to win in Malaysia, albeit helped by poor weather, Alonso and Ferrari were on the back foot through the early stages of the season as the team struggled to come to terms with the design of the new car.
The start of the European season in Barcelona however signalled a big improvement for the team with Alonso only finishing off the podium once since his home race and he admitted that it had been something of a turning point for his championship challenge.
“We did improve the car a lot,” he replied when asked how much the team had improved since pre-season testing at Jerez. “I don't know how much, or I cannot quantify it in terms of lap time because it will be difficult. I think between two and three seconds maybe but obviously it's a number that cannot be very precise.
“I think the biggest improvement that we introduced was in Barcelona; the biggest updates were mainly the aerodynamics of the car – but we knew that in the first three or four races, when we were in China, Bahrain, the car was not doing what we were expecting. And when we arrived in Barcelona, everything became a little bit more normal for us and from that point, all the updates it was fine-tuning. But the Barcelona one was to make everything back to work.”
Alonso extended his lead with victory in Germany last weekend – his third success of the year – and has now become the favourite to secure the championship title for the third time during the second half of the year and he admitted that another title to his name was something he was keen to achieve.
“I think we need to wait and see when we have real possibilities of fighting for this championship,” he said. “At the moment, as we said, we are happy with the points achieved in the first half but we need to keep working hard, we need to keep consistency and we need to keep doing good results. This can change very quickly, in two or three races and then we talk about very different things.
“When I finished Brazil in 2006, it was a dream for me to (even think to) win three World Championships in my career. If it's this year, in two years' time or in six years' time, I don't know but the third one will be very important for me. To have the same as Ayrton had - three World Championships - he was idol or my reference when I was in go-karts and some big names, as you said, Lauda etc so three is a pretty good number which I always dream of, and hopefully arrive sooner rather than later.”