Alonso looking forward to F1 break

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The Independent Online

Fernando Alonso already has his sights set on Formula One's first mini-break of the new season.

Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix will conclude the four-race, fly-away start to the calendar, and signal a near three-week hiatus before the F1 circus pitches up in its traditional European heartland in May.

After what will be the fourth race in six weekends, Alonso is now looking forward to having a rest prior to his home grand prix in Barcelona on May 9.

"We need to gain many points to conclude this first part of the championship in the best possible way before we head to Europe," said the Ferrari star.

"There will be a long break after Shanghai and the drivers and the teams can recharge their batteries before the European races start.

"We'll all benefit from that, that's for sure."

Even though he failed to score a point on his last outing in Malaysia due to an engine failure two laps from home, Alonso trails team-mate Felipe Massa by just two points in the drivers' standings.

With Ferrari also leading the constructors' championship, it is a situation he describes as "a dream" on his debut season for the team.

Alonso, though, knows reliability is key if he is to maintain his title challenge, and is confident Ferrari have resolved the issues in Malaysia where he also had a gear selection problem in the race.

That was after a troubled qualifying due to the wet weather which left Alonso and Massa starting from 19th and 21st on the grid.

"We made a bad evaluation mistake in the qualifying and we paid for it in the race, where we also had reliability problems," added the double world champion.

"Something like this can happen to anyone and we have to learn our lesson so we don't repeat certain mistakes.

"With regard to reliability, I'm not worried. I think what provoked the engine failure was a one-off."

Since Malaysia, Ferrari have carried out an in-depth engine study as customers Sauber also suffered failures that resulted in Pedro De La Rosa not starting and Kamui Kobayashi retiring on lap nine.

"The two problems are not related," said Luca Marmorini, Ferrari's head of their engine and electronics department.

"In Sepang, Fernando's engine suffered a structural failure of a type we had never seen during the winter.

"We believe there was a role played by the unusual way in which the driver had to use the engine during the race because of the gear selection problems he experienced from the start.

"As for Sauber, we believe their problem was down to an issue with electronic sensors.

"Overall I'm happy because I think the Ferrari package is quick, even if it could always be quicker of course."