Fernando Alonso has played down his chances of fighting for the podium at his home race in Spain, despite finishing third last time out in China.
“The China result is a boost for all the team – extra motivation to keep working hard,” said Alonso. “We are not in a position we are happy with. We start with some deficit to the top teams, especially Mercedes who won the first four races and is dominating now with good margins, so we try to decrease that gap and we try to get closer and closer. To do that we need to make bigger steps than what the other teams will do. For here, to be honest, we need to wait and see.
“I think the characteristics of the circuit will help us a little bit, with not too big straights – only one here on the finish line. About the new parts, we bring some new parts but nothing out of this world. I don’t think we will be different compared to any other top team in terms on what we bring here, or even less. We need to see. As I said, track characteristics are the biggest help we have here.”
Regarding the odds of a podium this weekend he was keen not to be over optimistic and potentially mislead his fans.
“We cannot start the weekend thinking to be on the podium. Or thinking to win the race. That will be creating false targets to everyone who will come here. We finished ninth and tenth in Bahrain, we did a podium in China because we had some things putting together on that Sunday, but it’s not that we are in a position now to say we will fight for the podium here.
“We will do our best, but we know it is going to be a tough weekend and it’s not going to be easy. But, you never know, this is sport and anything can happen but today, sitting here, if I tell you that I will fight for the podium, probably I will lie to you and I don’t want to do so for all the people coming.”
Alonso was also cautious about prospects for improving as the year goes on.
“We need to do it step by step. As I said, we need to be realistic with the position that we have. We will not give up, there’s a big gap and a big gap in points and in performance with Mercedes but there’s still a long way to go in the championship so we will try to do our best. As a team, and with the potential that Ferrari has, we must do anything we can to close that gap and to become competitive. That will not happen between one race to the next one, that will be a slow recovery and hopefully not too late when we become competitive in terms of points to fight for the championship but let’s do it race by race.
“China, as I said, was a combination of things and very good luck to get that podium. Here in Barcelona, it’s a good point to check how competitive we are, because it’s a circuit with different characteristics again and a circuit that will give us an answer in some of the parameters and some of the areas that we need to find some answers.
“Monaco is the next one, then Canada – again a completely different circuit so we are in a moment of the championship that will tell us many many things in terms of how competitive we can be and how much of a threat we can be for Mercedes. If they count on us for the championship fight, it’s good news because they respect us but we need to deliver if we want to really become a threat, so we are on that, that work.”