Sakhir, 18 April – Amazingly, around the time of Fernando Alonso’s regular Thursday afternoon meeting with the media, it started to rain on the desert circuit of Sakhir, not heavily but rain all the same. It’s as if even the weather feels obliged to produce something unusual and interesting to match the start of this year’s Formula 1 season.
First question for the Scuderia Ferrari driver concerned his thoughts on the fact that currently, the Drivers’ classification is headed by a quartet of world champions, Fernando himself, Vettel, Raikkonen and Hamilton. “I don’t know if I am surprised, because I didn’t have any plan in my head as to what the championship order would be after the first three races,” admitted the Spaniard. “Last year, we saw many surprises in the early part of the season and this is the time when we look at everyone’s potential and increase our own learning of the new rules and other new elements: this year the tyres are probably the main learning process we are all tackling right now. At the moment, championship positions are not really important, but at the same time, it’s not a big surprise to see Lewis where he is: he is one of the best drivers on the grid right now and last year he put McLaren in a competitive position and this year he is doing it with Mercedes. We know the Red Bull is probably the strongest car and Kimi is having a fantastic start to the season and driving maybe better than anyone.”
Looking back at standing on the top step of the Shanghai podium, Fernando was naturally very satisfied with his performance, although cautious when assessing it’s importance. “I was very happy, as not winning for a while is a very difficult matter to deal with,” he said. “It was eleven or twelve races that we had not won, even if we were consistently on the podium, but there are many other drivers with super cars who have not won a race in the last 50 or 60 races. However, we need to be consistently on the podium if we want to fight for the championship.” The press clearly consider the reigning world champion, Sebastian Vettel as the Ferrari man’s main rival. “Not having Sebastian on the podium in China is good news at the moment only because he is currently leading the championship and I would feel the same if it was Lewis or Webber for example in the lead. It’s not because it’s Sebastian the person, it’s because he’s leading!”
Alonso was equally circumspect in assessing the current level of performance of the F138. “I don’t think we are the car to beat at the moment, just because we have this one victory,” he insisted. “In Australia we were clearly not the quickest and in Malaysia we struggled a bit. In China, on race pace, Sebastian was quickest in all the stints, but had chosen a strange strategy for qualifying. We need to keep improving and to be a little bit faster. There are some new pieces for this race and new components coming to Barcelona and Monaco. So hopefully in the next month and a half, we can be at the level of the best cars.”