Luca di Montezemolo, the president of Ferrari, was in optimistic mood at the launch of the team's 2013 car on Friday, describing the F138 as 'hopeful' and backing the decision to allow Fernando Alonso to sit out the first round of pre-season testing next week at Jerez in Spain.

"The decision not to run Fernando in the first week at Jerez was dictated by the wish to allow him to stick to a very precise physical training programme," di Montezemolo explained. "However, for the Barcelona test, attention will switch to performance, which is why Fernando will start then, rather than the first few days."

Di Montezemolo went on to dismiss suggestions that the team was trying to sign Red Bull's world champion Sebastian Vettel to drive for them alongside Alonso next year, saying that pairing Vettel with Alonso just wasn't possible.

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He also declined to say who the team's third driver would be in 2013, hinting that the choice is between former HRT race driver Pedro de la Rosa and Ferrari Driver Academy graduate Jules Bianchi, and that the question was still under discussion. Bianchi is also thought to be one of the drivers in line for the second race seat at Force India, but significantly on Friday the Frenchman opted to attend the Maranello launch over the equivalent Force India event at Silverstone held on the same day.

As for the new car itself, the Ferrari president seemed to be damning with faint praise by labelling its d?but form as merely 'hopeful', but he went on to clarify what he meant by that when speaking with the press on Friday.

"Yesterday afternoon I saw it and I defined it as 'hopeful,' because I noted plenty of attention to detail especially in areas where aerodynamics are key," di Montezemolo explained.

"Why should I hope this car is competitive right from the first race? The answer is threefold," he continued. "Firstly, because of the obsessively detailed review of the past season, secondly, the major changes to the organisation and work methodology and thirdly, the concentration on just one wind tunnel, which will be important, especially throughout this season.

"Track testing is not available to us, something many would like to see reintroduced, so we have concentrated more on simulation tools," he added. "Bringing an experienced driver like de la Rosa to Maranello is part of this strategy and attention to detail."

Di Montezemolo was certainly looking for all the good omens that he could find at the team's launch of the new F138 car at Maranello on Friday, and seemed determined to radiate optimism and good cheer for the team's prospects in 2013.

"I felt a special atmosphere, right from the start of the morning when I left my home in Bologna," he told the assembled crowd of journalists at the Ferrari headquarters, having already said how much he'd liked the launch event itself. "We had not seen fog here for a long time and it reminded me of the 1997 presentation, the year when Ferrari began its winning cycle."

Di Montezemolo also explained that keeping Ferrari close to its patriotic roots was still very important to him, and he worried that the addition of new test driver de la Rosa along with the retention for another year of long-time test and development driver Marc Gene was in danger of giving the Italian team a distinctly Spanish flavour.

"Our team was becoming Spanish with Gene and de la Rosa, and we want to increase the presence of the Italian flag at Ferrari to show how important is our country and our roots to us," he said, although the team had missed out on picking up GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi this week after the Italian was instead revealed as a test driver at Lotus on Monday.

Overall, di Montezemolo gave every indication of rededicating himself to Ferrari's motorsport endeavours, after being distracted in 2012 by rumours of a possible switch for him into Italian national politics.

"Apart from my family, Ferrari is the most important thing in my life," he insisted this week. "Every time I walk into the factory, even after all these years, it puts me in a good mood and I continue to get new stimuli and ideas."