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Alonso: Kimi was fantastic

2013-03-18 09:16

BETTER THAN THE 2012 CAR? Fernando Alonso is happy with the way his Ferrari performed at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix but he reckons Kimi Raikkonen will be the man to watch this year.

MELBOURNE, Australia - Fernando Alonso sounded upbeat about Ferrari's Formula 1 title chances on March 17, 2013, despite being outpaced by Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus in a thrilling Australian season-opener.

The sport's most successful team made a far more promising start than in 2012, when they had a troubled car, with Alonso's Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa finishing fourth in the new F138.

'KIMI WAS FANTASTIC'

Along with champions Red Bull, Ferrari were emphatically upstaged by the winning team, however, as Raikkonen stormed to victory with one less pit-stop and on only his second change of tyres.

Alonso said: "Obviously it was fantastic race, with fighting all through the race. I personally enjoyed it. At the end it was a little bit sad not to be able to win the race, but Kimi was fantastic today, the Lotus car as well.
 
"We had a very difficult start to the season two years ago and last year as well and this year is very different. We feel much more optimistic. The car is responding well, we are competitive so we have a very interesting season ahead of us."

Alonso, who had to pit three times, finished more than 12 seconds behind 2007 world champion and Ferrari predecessor Raikkonen, prompting questions about the team's three-stop strategy.

'NEED TO ANALYSE'

Alonso responded, when asked about Lotus's success with only two stops: "It is a worry, yes. Kimi was driving fantastically all through the race and he managed two stops, so we need to analyse what we can do for the next race.

"We have only four days to work on the car to prepare for the next race and I think he will again be a tough opponent."

Ferrari head into Malaysia top of the Constructors championship, a year after limping to Sepang with worrying mechanical problems on the back of a fifth place finish to Alonso, and a retirement to Massa at Albert Park.

Technical director Pat Fry said: "We had a good race pace and both drivers performed well without making any mistakes.

"But we are aware that we still have a lot of work to do if we want to continue to improve. Maybe we could have risked a two stop strategy, but given the unknowns linked to tyre degradation, we preferred not to do that.

"In the next races, it will be vital to understand the tyre behaviour, in order to choose the best strategies."

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2013 Formula 1 season – fresh reports every day.
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