|© AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
Fernando Alonso has warned rivals that he will continue as a contender for the title this year and even believes that he could be on the podium at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, although his car may not be at its best yet.
After the pre-season tests in Spain, however, the Ferrari driver concluded that it would be a surprise if defending champions Red Bull were not ahead of the pack by some margin early in the season.
"Red Bull should be able to win even with the car from Brazil (last year),” Alonso was quoted saying by AS.com but pointed out that there was no reason to count out Ferrari either.
"I need a faster car to win. But with a car that is two-tenths (off the pace) I have enough,” he reckoned suggesting that development battle over the 19 races might play a hand.
After struggling with an underpar car throughout the season last year, which the Ferrari driver described as the best of his career, the double world champion is sure that 2013 will be better.
"I have prepared better. I am better than last year," he was quoted saying by Reuters.
"(Last year) I arrived in Australia and Malaysia without very much confidence of what we could do and not so much confidence in the car," he recalled. "I did not have so much trust in what we were doing... we were a little bit lost.
"I am more motivated than last year, but of course I also need a better car than last year because we were too far from the leaders," he added.