Fernando Alonso reckons about ten drivers will go into the Australian Grand Prix this weekend with a realistic chance of winning and taking the first victory of the 2013 F1 season.
#1 added that while he doesn't think the grid will be quite as mixed up as in 2012, he still thinks any of the drivers with one of the 'big' teams could come through and take first blood in Melbourne.
“I think so,” he confirmed, when asked if about ten drivers have a proper chance of success at Albert Park. “I think Mercedes, McLaren, Lotus, Ferrari
and Red Bull
showed up some potential in different days in testing and different parts of races last year. I think it is difficult to choose - difficult to know. No-one knows who can win this race at this moment. We have to wait and see for answers to some questions that winter testing doesn't give.
“I think there are top teams with a little bit of advantage. Maybe it's not the same as last year where we saw seven different winners in the seven first races. It was a little bit mixed on the grid. I think this year with the consistency in the rules I expect the five top teams to have a little advantage and not to have many, many surprises in the first races.
“But from these five top teams I think it's very difficult to see really after winter testing who has this extra two- or three-tenths that can make you win. At the moment I think it's very close and very difficult to choose one favourite.”
As for his own chances, Alonso reiterated that he is a lot happier than he was this time twelve months ago.
“We'll see [how it goes]. [But] I think it was not difficult to start better than last year because it was difficult to start any worse!” he added.
“We were a little bit too far behind and this winter has been much better than the last year, [in terms of] understanding the car and working with the car and getting the results we more or less expect. That gives us much more confidence and optimism to start the season, but who knows [what will happen].
“I think it will be a very interesting championship, very challenging first part of the championship with Australia and Malaysia. Difficult circuits, difficult weather as well – changeable.
“So we need to start on the right foot and hopefully score some good points for the championship.”
Asked about his two near-misses in 2012 and 2010, Alonso stated that just motivates him even more for 2013.
“I feel privileged to have fought for the world championship two times in the last three years. Not many people have the opportunity to be on the podium and to enjoy the podium ceremony in F1 - and even less people have the opportunity to win races and very few people have the opportunity to fight for a world championship. So I feel lucky to have had those opportunities.
“Sure, we lost two times in the last three years in the last race and we want to have again the possibility once again to fight for the world championship, hopefully this year - and hopefully this year change the final result [too]. But this is just a normal thing for the sport and this is maybe some extra motivation for me and from the team, to really have one happy result at the end [of 2013],” he concluded.