Alonso confident Renault will improve

Fernando Alonso is confident that Renault can improve their R28 'in all areas' after admitting his team have much work to do to get back on level terms with McLaren and Ferrari, having trailed behind the top two teams for the last 18 months

Alonso confident Renault will improve

Despite finishing a combative fourth in last weekend's Australian Grand Prix following a dice with Heikki Kovalainen, Alonso remains realistic about the task ahead of the team he won back-to-back world championship titles with in 2005 and 2006.

Asked in Malaysia if he had been encouraged by his late-race scrap with the McLaren driver Alonso replied: "Well it was good but obviously we were lucky with that situation, if not [for the Safety Car] Heikki was one minute in front of us so it was not a real situation.

"I would like to have wheel-to-wheel with a Ferrari or McLaren in a real race," he added. "So that is the real target for this season and we were too far behind in Melbourne."

"We already knew we were not close enough fight for important things and were well behind Ferrari, McLaren and BMW. We are in that group with Red Bull, Williams, Toyota - that sometimes depending on the circuit, set-up or strategy we can sometimes be in front or behind."

Alonso says improving the car's performance is Renault's top priority and is confident progress is already being made.

"I'm optimistic," he said. It's only the first race of the championship and at this point of the year you are always optimistic - there are a lot of races and a lot of time and I really think we can close that gap and improve the car a lot.

"But in F1, nothing is 100 per cent sure and okay, we will improve but the others will too. It's up to us to do a better job."

Alonso detailed improvements to the way the Renault work their Bridgestone tyres as well as aerodynamic upgrades as key factors in the team's 2008 development programme.

"We need to improve everything starting with the aerodynamics of the car," he said. "We need to improve the efficiency of the car - more downforce, very normal things to be quick. Engine-wise I don't know if we are okay or not - but there's nothing we can do, the engines are frozen for the last couple of years.

"We need to keep improving the suspension and the way it works with the Bridgestone - we didn't match it 100 per cent so far.

"In the factory they are making good progress with the aerodynamics and the suspension as well. Hopefully we will introduce the improvements as soon as possible and they will work on the track. When you lose one and a half seconds, you lose seven tenths in the first sector, six in the second and six in the third - you're losing in every corner."

The Spaniard also added that he is far from despondent at not being able to fight for victories right now and said that he is simply enjoying the challenge of reviving Renault's chances and fighting in the midfield.

"It's a bit like it was in 2003 and 2004 - you need to fight and close the gap and the races are a little bit more interesting for me because you are always in the middle of a group," he said. "And there is a lot of things to do and fight starting from the lap one and the start.

"Many things were going on for me in Australia and I guess that's how the whole season will be. I'm enjoying this new challenge - of course, there's work we have to do as soon as possible to close the gap and I'm part of that thing."

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