Fernando Alonso has warned his rivals that he is in even better shape than he was last season, as he sets his sights on delivering his first Ferrari world championship.
Although he has drawn short of declaring that his Maranello team has a car that is good enough to come out on top in Australia later this month, he reckons that he is personally in the form of his career.
After a 2012 campaign where he excelled, and was voted the Driver of the Year by Formula 1 team principals, Alonso said at a Santander media event in Barcelona on Monday that he is heading to the first race even stronger.
"I think always you can improve and I am ready to do so," he said, when asked by AUTOSPORT if he felt there was any room for him to improve on what he did last season.
"Last year was the best year of my career and I was very happy with the performance, but I think this year will be better.
"We have a better starting point, and I have learned from some mistakes of last year.
"You can improve always as a driver in terms of tyre management, and in terms of preparation approach for the grand prix.
"The trust, confidence and motivation are better than any other year and pit stop wise, with starts - all these things, we are constantly learning.
"I have prepared better; I am better than last year."
Alonso says his confidence is based not just on the fact he feels in better physical shape after electing to skip the first test, but also that Ferrari's F138 appears strong.
"[In 2012] I was obviously motivated and I wanted to win, but I arrived in Australia and Malaysia without very much confidence of what we could do, with not so much confidence in the car," he explained.
"I did not have so much trust of what we were doing, because, as I said many times, we were a little bit lost.
"It was not in the plan or in my mind to fight for the world championship last year because we were so far behind. We were 1.6 seconds [off] in Australia - so that was an amazing comeback from the team."
"I am more motivated than last year, but of course it is true that I need a better car than last year because we were too far from the leaders.
"I expect the team to have a better car.
"We don't ask to be half a second in front of everybody, but two tenths behind everybody is OK."
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