Fernando Alonso is assured that Ferrari's new car will be a help not a hindrance


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The Independent Online

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso has dismissed the prospect of the new Formula One season witnessing anything close to last year's return of seven different winners from the first seven races.

Regulation changes before the start of the 2012 campaign levelled the playing field to such an extent that no one team or driver managed to take the series by the scruff of the neck until deep into the year.

The man who ultimately emerged ahead was Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, who went on to claim his third consecutive drivers' title, but he was run close by Alonso, who recovered from a disappointing start to the campaign to lose the crown by just three points.

Alonso was present at Ferrari's Maranello headquarters yesterday as the team took the wraps off their new F138, which it is hoped will propel the Spaniard to the front of the pack right from the opening race of the season in Australia on 17 March.

And Alonso, who will again be partnered by Felipe Massa this year, believes the settled regulations of this past winter will see the usual suspects challenging for the wins in 2013.

"I think it was a one-off as a result of the regulation changes," Alonso said when asked about the unpredictable nature of the grid at the start of last season.

"Now, with things a bit more stabilised, we saw at the end of the season the top teams emerge and so I think it will be highly unlikely we will have seven races and seven winners.

"There will be three teams who win all the races and we have to be one of those," Alonso added, alluding to perennial frontrunners Red Bull and McLaren.

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali believes it is crucial the Italian team hits the ground running in Melbourne. With Alonso's 2012 title charge ultimately undermined by a slow start to the season and a lack of qualifying pace throughout the year, Domenicali hopes things will be different this time around.

After seeing the wraps come off the team's new challenger, which does not feature the stepped nose that became the norm in F1 last season, Domenicali said: "The key objective is to immediately deliver a competitive car to the drivers. Unfortunately in recent seasons we have not been able to get to the start of the season right on top of what we are doing like our competitors. We need to be competitive from the start."

Domenicali feels the team have already moved past their 2012 disappointment. "We have come from a season which was very difficult from an emotional point of view. To come second at the last race is always difficult," he said. "But we have already forgotten those things which left us with regret last year and we have started improving on the positive aspects of 2012, such as reliability and strategy during the races. There are plenty of things that allow us to look forward to the new season."

The redesign of the Ferrari nose will be welcomed by those F1 purists dismayed by the ugly appearance of last year's car, and Domenicali was happy to deliver a positive endorsement of the new car's looks, saying: "It is more beautiful."

Domenicali said the new car was unlikely to undergo a major overhaul during the season, with the team boss all too aware that big regulation changes are in the pipeline for 2014.

"According to our planning, there will be nothing too revolutionary, but rather an implementation of what we have seen so far," he said. "In my opinion a serious team has to focus on the fact that in 2014 we face a completely different season in terms of the regulations and therefore, we must concentrate on bringing into play the right resources."