F1 favourites Ferrari spurred on by Alonso

Spurred on by the enthusiastic arrival of Fernando Alonso and a disastrous 2009, Ferrari will head into the Formula One season as the championship favorite with a bit of a chip on its shoulder.

Last year, the Italian team had its worst run of results since 1993, finishing fourth in the constructors' standings after only one victory. Also, Felipe Massa missed the second half of the season because of a near-death crash in Hungary.



Despite the doom and gloom, Ferrari has rallied behind the signing of two-time champion Alonso, who, after three straight difficult seasons, has been re-energized by what he has described as "the best car I've ever driven."



"It's unbelievable the feeling here, the passion of everybody," Alonso said last month in Valencia, where a record 36,400 spectators came out to see his first spin in the iconic red car.



Alonso replaced Kimi Raikkonen, whose stand-off personality never enamored itself to the Tifosi even if the Finnish driver beat both Alonso and McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton to the 2007 title by one point.



Alonso will finally get the chance to duel with Hamilton in a worthy car, while Massa, Michael Schumacher, defending champion Jenson Button and Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel are all expected to be in the fold.



"He's definitely one of the best," former Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello said. "And when you first start at Ferrari it's a dream team with all they can offer you — not only the car but what they offer you outside, too. With that he's living a good moment, so I tip him and Massa (for the title)."



Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is expecting a lot from his two drivers after a team usually marked by excellence faltered.



"I haven't forgotten the humiliation of the Abu Dhabi weekend," Di Montezemolo said in front of Alonso, Massa and 400 Ferrari employees. "But now we know that our efforts paid off, because we can look at the start of the season knowing that we have a reliable car and we're ready to tackle our competitors."



Last season was a catastrophe by Ferrari's high standards.



Ferrari focused on 2010 earlier than usual since it was already out of the title fight by April's Spanish Grand Prix, while Massa replacement Luca Badoer placed last in the two GPs he raced before Giancarlo Fisichella was signed, with Fisichella remaining this season as a reserve driver.



Ferrari wrapped up the preseason with more test time than any other team and the fewest reliability problems.



"What we could see, and considering all the unknown factors in the testing, I think that we've shown that we can be competitive and are part of the top group in terms of pure performance," Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said.



Last season was also a write-off for Alonso.



The Spanish driver managed only one top-three finish with Renault, who guided him to back-to-back titles in 2005-06. Those championships spurred his move to McLaren, where promising rookie Hamilton proved to be the biggest obstacle to a third straight title as the British driver was favored despite his inexperience.



"That helped me become a better driver," Alonso said of his year at McLaren. "I've arrived with more maturity because of those experiences. I'm more relaxed, more at peace. I'm ready for any challenge."



Massa cannot afford any mistakes following his early exit last season after a freak accident in Budapest led to skull surgery and the lengthy layoff. Raikkonen later picked up the team's sole win in Belgium.



"I've never had problems with teammates in the past or present so I'm 100 percent sure that I will never have a problem with Fernando — we work well together and that's important," the Brazilian said, although in a very defensive tone. "We're working very well in the right direction."

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments