Fernando Alonso refuses to dismiss Mercedes as one-lap wonders, suggesting that the Three-Pointed Star could be the favourite to win next time out in Monaco.
Mercedes has taken the last three pole positions - in China, Bahrain and Spain – courtesy of Lewis Hamilton
and Nico Rosberg, but has yet to turn one into a race win, as both drivers have slipped back through the field despite their apparent Saturday pace.
Alonso has 'inherited' two of those victories, adding a home win in Barcelona to his first of the season in Shanghai at the weekend, but insists that the next round on the schedule, in Monaco, could provide a unique opportunity for Mercedes to make its qualifying pace work in its favour.
“Definitely,” he claimed, “They will arrive as favourites for Monaco. They've been on pole position for the last three races, they were on pole last year with Michael [Schumacher]'s lap, so it would be a surprise if they weren't on pole position again.
“It's more difficult to overtake in Monaco, so maybe they can keep good positions for longer. It's something we need to understand and we need to do a better job on Saturday, Felipe [Massa] and I. Monaco is one of those places where we must
Mercedes' bid to add to Rosberg's early season win following Schumacher's 'pole' at Monaco in 2012 were scuppered by the penalty the seven-time champion carried over from colliding with Bruno Senna in Barcelona, although Rosberg did finish on the podium after coming home second to Red Bull's Mark Webber.
Alonso was third that day and, with a more competitive Ferrari
at his disposal this season, is confident that he can add to his own victory tally in the Principality.
“I'm confident for Monte Carlo,” he confirmed, “Looking at the last three years, even when we were not competitive there, we always managed to be on the podium, more or less, so that's the aim for this year as well.”
The Spaniard currently lies third in the standings, still some 17 points adrift of leader Sebastian Vettel, but he knows that two bad races from the first five this season are the root cause of the deficit.
“We had a problem in Malaysia, with the retirement, and the problem with the rear wing in Bahrain, so we lost some of the consistency that we need to fight for the championship,” he admitted, “In the three trouble-free races we've had this year we finished second in Australia and we won in China and in Spain, so what we want to do is put together four or five consistent races with no problems and try to get some podiums in our pocket and score some good points. I think, in Monaco, we can continue this trend.
“I remember in 2011, we were lapped here [in Spain] by the McLarens and Red Bulls, and we arrived in Monaco and nearly won the race - we finished second behind Sebastian with a red flag on the last lap and were fighting for victory. So I don't see any reason, with this car which is competitive everywhere, not to fight for top positions in Monaco.”