Fernando Alonso heads into the European Grand Prix here this weekend feeling the pressure of trying to win Ferrari's first race of the season and the motivation of seeking to achieve it in front of his home fans.
His last two races proved competitive but deeply frustrating due to safety car periods – in Monaco, the race was stopped as he was poised to challenge Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel for the lead, and then in Montreal he lost out in a collision with McLaren's eventual winner Jenson Button.
"I know our fans are eagerly awaiting our first win of the season and I assure you that the same goes for us," the double world champion said. "At the last two races, we showed we were clearly capable of winning and, especially in Monaco, we came pretty close, although I believe even in Canada I could have fought for it all the way to the end, given what we had seen in qualifying.
"Now we go to a track with reasonably similar characteristics to Montreal and there is no obvious reason why we should not be competitive here too," concluded Alonso, who is fifth overall and 92 points behind champion Vettel in the drivers' standings.
Alonso will want better luck at the Valencia street circuit than he experienced last year when the safety car was his nemesis. Alonso had been third and chasing McLaren's Lewis Hamilton when the safety car came out and triggered controversy, with Hamilton slipping past it – earning a meaningless drive-through penalty – while Alonso held back. The Spaniard ended up eighth, Hamilton second. "To tell the truth, I've never been that lucky in this race since it's been held on the Valencia street circuit," Alonso said.
One boost to his chances this weekend could turn out to be the ban on changing engine mapping between qualifying and the race which may pull Red Bull back into the pack. The suggestion is the world champions have used an extreme engine map – such as burning more fuel to increase performance – to assist them in qualifying this season, prior to reverting to a safer mode for the race.
The team have clinched all seven poles, with Vettel out in front on six occasions, yet despite winning five grands prix, his race pace has not mirrored that over one lap.