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Alonso: Manufacturers can catch Brawn

Fernando AlonsoFormer world champion Fernando Alonso is convinced that Formula 1's manufacturer teams will all be able to respond to the early pace-setting form shown by Brawn GP.

The sport's newest entrant caused a stir at the Australian Grand Prix when it delivered a stunning 1-2 finish, while major manufacturer outfits like Ferrari, McLaren-Mercedes and Renault struggled to match the pace of the independent.

However, even though Brawn is expected to lead the way during the early part of the campaign, Alonso is sure that the sport's big names will recover lost ground.

When asked if he thought the form book shown in Melbourne was likely to stay the same for the season, Alonso said: "I don't think so. Ferrari, McLaren, BMW and Renault are not at the front of the grid, but these are the best teams in F1 so no one should count us out yet.

"This is just the first race of the season, so it's like the first match of the Spanish football championship. Even if Real Madrid and Barcelona lose their first matches, we all know they'll be the ones fighting for the title in the end."

Alonso's feelings about a strong response from the manufacturer teams have been backed by Brawn GP boss Ross Brawn, who thinks that his outfit faces a tough challenge to stay at the front.

"I'm sure there will be rapid progress from the other teams," he said. "We've all seen each others' cars now. We understand what other people are doing. We've got to try and keep moving forward as well.

"We've got an upgrade for Barcelona which looks quite good, there will be two or three different steps during the year, but then we've got some different regulations next year as well.

"The 2010 regulations are quite different with no refuelling and we've got to start the 2010 car quite soon. It's certainly not going to be easy at any stage but we've got things happening to try and ensure that we stay competitive."

Williams technical director Sam Michael, whose team has had a strong start to the season, also expects the big-money manufacturers to stage a major comeback.

"Teams like Ferrari and McLaren aren't stupid," he said. "They are just on a different development curve. So I think it won't be like this now. To be honest, it's pretty tight, it's not that Brawn has gone away at two seconds a lap in qualifying. We're talking about tenths.

"Brawn GP is a fantastic story. Here's a team that almost folded a few weeks ago and didn't exist. Now they've qualified first and second and landed a new sponsor - you can't get a better story than that. It's very impressive what they've done."

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