Alonso Tips Renault for Title

Fernando Alonso claimed in Malaysia on Thursday that his Renault team have already shown that they can wrestle the World Championship crown away from Ferrari by the end of this season

Alonso Tips Renault for Title

Renault won the season-opening race in Australia when Giancarlo Fisichella led from start to finish while Alonso fought his way up from 13th on the grid to finish on the podium in third.

Now he is confident that, with a well handling and reliable car and a very competitive driver line-up, the team finally have what it will take to make the next step up and challenge for the Championship.

"I feel we are in shape for the Championship," said Alonso. "It is a very long season so we have to be consistent, not lose any points. Finishing the race is the top priority.

"We (at Renault) have more confidence (this season) - you can really drive the car. Last year sometimes the car was driving you. We can push even more this year compared to last and find the limit."

Renault moved ahead of Ferrari after introducing their new car in time for the start of the season but the World Champions are still developing their 2005 machine after optimising the design stage.

But Alonso admitted he will have to make sure he finishes the early races to maximise Renault's current advantage over Ferrari before the Italian team release their new car.

Alonso is simply targeting another podium finish for this weekend's race in Malaysia but he added: "In the first three or four races we have to finish because we have a strong car.

"With 19 races you can score a lot of points but if you don't finish three or four it could be a problem. I hope to finish at least on the podium here. We have a strong package and we should be competitive."

Alonso's performance in Australia was praised by his team but while he was happy to notch up six points and get his Championship campaign on the way he refuses to count the rain-hit event as a real result.

"I don't count Australia because it was not a normal race," said Alonso. "I expected to finish fifth or sixth and after the second pitstop I was third and finished third, so I was very surprised."

Renault are expected to face a fight with McLaren for superiority this weekend while Ferrari continue to await their new F2005 machine but Alonso believes they already have the measure of their rivals.

"In the race for sure we were faster (than McLaren)," he said. "But in three practice sessions and qualifying we were very similar. We were worried we were slower than them but in the end we were quicker."

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