Fernando Alonso believes there is plenty more to come from Ferrari’s F14 T, despite a less a muted start to the season in Australia.
Following a fourth-place finish in Melbourne, more than 35 seconds adrift of winner Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes, Alonso bemoaned a lack of performance, adding the team “needs to improve”.
Speaking today in the Sepang paddock today, however, Alonso, when asked if he had revised his opinion following time to digest the Melbourne race, the two-time champion admitted that while it feels like a repeat of the team’s troubled early races of the past few seasons, there is plenty of scope to improve F14 T.
“It’s not been a perfect start. It seems like a repetition of the last couple of years, but these are different rules and a different rate of development,” he said. “The hope is perfectly there.
“We have more potential than what we saw in Australia,” he added. “We need to put everything in place and have a better weekend. We also understand we need to improve, especially with the Mercedes seeming so strong. But the team has the facilities and the talent to do a very good job. We should be strong and we will do better, I’m pretty sure.”
Kimi Raikkonen, though was less optimistic, saying that Ferrari’s position in the pecking order was as the team finished in Melbourne.
“I think we are more or less where we finished in Australia.” Said the Finn. “Every circuit is different and obviously it is very hot and humid here, with slightly different tyres. I have no idea, even from the past years it was very difficult to say race to race and with the new rules it will still be hard to say. Hopefully we can get a slightly better feeling and overall have a bit more experience on how everything will run.”
Raikkonen’s opening weekend of the championship was hampered by handling issues, which Ferrari later put down to the Finn having difficulty with F1’s new brake-by-wire system.
Today, though, the Finn denied the new technology was to blame for his problems in Malaysia.
“I don’t know where that came from, it’s not the issue and there is nothing wrong with the system,” Raikkonen said. “Somebody asked me about it after the race and I said it’s no issue, so it’s not true. It is mainly just set-up and getting the car as I like it to run. We are making some new stuff for me and hopefully when we get those it will be easier and I’ll get some more feeling in the front end. It’s not been the ideal start, but it’s going to be a long year and I’m sure we can keep progressing.”
Referencing Raikkonen’s issues, Alonso said he was unsure of what the problem was but that if he had a “better adaptation” he would be happy to provide it to the Finn.
“I’ve only had a few tests and one race with Kimi, so I don’t know exactly what is the problem with him,” said Alonso. “I have enough to concentrate on on my side but if I have a better adaptation, I am here to help the team and if they have more difficulties hopefully they will improve quickly and in races where I have difficulty I can learn from them as quickly as possible.”
Finally, asked for his opinion of the new era of F1 having had two weeks to reflect on the experience of the first race of the season, Alonso confessed that he would not be able to give a ‘correct’ answer.
“It’s a very uncomfortable matter to speak about,” he said. “If I say I like this Formula One I will be criticised because this is not anymore Formula One for most of the fans. If I say I don’t like this Formula One fans will be critical because I only like it when I win.
“It’s the same with our performance. If you say you are more or less happy with fourth place in the race in Australia because you finished the race, then you are not motivated anymore and not hungry for success. If you say you want to win and we don’t have the performance, you are criticising the team, so it’s very difficult when you have the microphone to talk about anything in this difficult contest.
“We need to give it a little bit more time,” he said. “I understand the disappointment of the Australian race from the fans point of view, because the race was not as we thought. There was a lot of talk before the race about how exciting this new Formula One would be, how many cars would finish, maybe zero, all of this. When 15 cars finished and there were not that many problems people were not maybe expecting that. So we need to give a little bit more time. Maybe here we’ll have a fantastic race, a fantastic show.”