Alonso says Brawn GP pace is real

Renault driver Fernando Alonso believes the Brawn GP team is one of three or four squads who are a step in front of their rivals ahead of the start of the season following its showing in testing

Alonso says Brawn GP pace is real

The team has been impressive in its first public outing at Barcelona this week, with Jenson Button setting the fastest time of the week yesterday with the BGP-001 machine.

Although some suspect the team is running with low fuel to grab the headlines and attract sponsors, Renault driver Alonso thinks Brawn GP's pace is real.

The two-time champion reckons the team is among a group of squads who are a step ahead of their rivals.

"It's hard to judge right now, but Toyota, Ferrari, BMW or Brawn are very fast," Alonso told Spanish media. "The competition is very tough and everybody is working well, with a good progression.

"It's obvious that there are three or four teams ahead of the rest," added Alonso, who believes his own Renault team is not as quick as its rivals.

"I had a lot more doubts last season because the car was not going well. Ferrari, Brawn, or BMW are, right now, unreachable," he was quoted as saying by AS newspaper.

"We have to think that finishing fifth here, with one car per team, means being 10th in a race. There are three or four teams ahead of us. Even so, it's not all about winning in Melbourne because the championship is very long."

Alonso thinks Brawn GP has benefited from having switched its efforts to 2009 earlier than the rest.

"It's not normal that they are so quick in their first tests," he added. "The truth is that they have a car that Honda began working on in 2007 to use in 2009. And that's evident in its design, because it's a very elaborate car, with different shapes than the rest."

Despite his caution about Renault's form, the Spanish driver admitted he feels more optimistic than last year.

"I'm more optimistic that at the same point last year. In 2008 I was not optimistic and, after the first two or three races, I thought I'd spend the rest of the championship as a tourist in the cities where we raced.

"I've always been optimistic, but maybe in the last few weeks there has been an excess of optimism. We are nearly here not there. We were really bad at Portimao and ready to win the title at Jerez. We have to take it one step at the time and if we work well we'll be able to compete in a high level."

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