Fernando Alonso is expecting the battle for the championship to distil into a much smaller group of protagonists than currently appears the case – and says that when that time comes Ferrari must ensure it is right in the fight.
The pattern of the season’s first three races has mirrored that of 2010 when there were also three different winners from three different teams and a championship leader who had yet to win a race. Six different drivers have also stood on the podium so far in 2012, which is just one less than the total for the whole of last season.
But Alonso, who currently sits behind the McLaren drivers in third place in the standings largely thanks to his unexpected Sepang win in rain-affected conditions, reckons the unpredictability seen so far will prove the exception rather than the rule once a more established pecking order emerges.
Speaking in Bahrain today, the 2005-2006 world champion said: “So far in three races we have seen three different scenarios, but I expect the championship will settle down and while now there are maybe four teams and a few drivers fighting for the championship, I expect later it will be a couple of drivers and two teams and we need to be in that group.”
With Ferrari having to wait until the sport’s return to Europe to begin to roll out some more fundamental changes to the underperforming F2012 in a bid to close the pace gap to the front, Alonso isn’t expecting much to change this weekend, but is hopeful for the Mugello test and beyond.
“We are hoping for a good step forward for the start of the European season because, at the moment, we are too far behind and not in a position to fight for the championship,” he admitted. “We hope the change comes soon: Mugello will be an important test and then Barcelona is traditionally a race where all the teams bring improvements, so we will have to make a bigger step than the others and recover some of the gap.”
Meanwhile, in wake of technical director Pat Fry’s verdict at the last race that Ferrari needed to bolster its aerodynamics programme, it was revealed today by Autosport that former Benetton and Red Bull aerodynamicist Ben Agathangelou is joining the team. The British engineer, who left RBR in late 2007, has since returned to F1 to work first with HRT and, most recently, Marussia.