Fernando Alonso says he was impressed by Ferrari’s performance across Formula 1 pre-season testing but has urged caution over his former team being the favourites in 2019. 

Ferrari enjoyed a strong fortnight of winter testing in Barcelona, leaving chief rivals Mercedes and Red Bull convinced the Italian squad is the benchmark team heading into the new season. 

Former Ferrari driver Alonso, who was present at the second test in his new role as a McLaren racing ambassador following his F1 exit, hopes the Scuderia can sustain a season-long title challenge after back-to-back collapses in 2017 and 2018. 

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“I think everyone was impressed in the first week they’ve been very strong not only with the performance but also with the number of laps they put everyday,” Alonso said. 

“But I remember last year it was some kind of a similar thing as well. 

“They’ve been very strong all winter and they’ve been strong in the first couple of races but you know the championship is long and hopefully as long as we see a close championship like last year, I think we will be all happy.”

Once again, the midfield order looks particularly tight to call, and Alonso believes the performance gap to the leading trio of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull could have been closed, partly in thanks to the new aerodynamic regulations introduced. 

Asked if he is expecting any differences to the pecking order in 2019, Alonso replied: “I don’t think so. I think it’s quite similar to last year. 

“Obviously there were cars running 4 or 5 seconds slower or quicker than the morning and it’s difficult to judge on a winter test but I think it’s going to be tight, very tight, this year. 

“It was last year, the midfield pack was compressed, from 5th to 10th. It seems that this year it can be the same and may be the midfield is a little bit closer to the big three, or hopefully it will be like that and we will see in Australia.”

 

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