Q & A with Fernando Alonso

It may have been achieved on a small fuel load, but there was still no doubt that Fernando Alonso's front row start in China marked a big step forward for Renault

Q & A with Fernando Alonso

Ahead of this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, Alonso gave the press his thoughts on where Renault now stands.

Q. Flavio Briatore was very optimistic about the car's performance in China. Do you agree?

Fernando Alonso: Not totally. Obviously we made a step forward and we are much more happy with the car now, but we know that it's not enough to fight with the quickest cars at the moment, and it's not possible to win races and maybe be on the podium. We know that but it's true that before we maybe lacked one second and we were in P12, P10 and now we can be much closer.

I think fuel-load corrected in China we were P6 in Q3, which is much better than Australia and Malaysia, and in the race we also had a good performance. I started last but overtook some cars and when we were running alone maybe we were fourth fastest, so this is definitely a good stop for us, but we know we need another one to be fighting on top.

Q. Is there more coming in Barcelona?

FA: I worry that there isn't. We tried to push our new package for China because we needed it as soon as possible, but obviously when you bring a package a little bit forward you are left with nothing for the next couple of races. My understanding is that McLaren and Force India have a new package as well. In Barcelona most of the teams will update their cars and we will try to put some parts as well, but we need some more races to really develop the car a little bit more.

Q. How did the car feel in China?

FA: Not a big change. Similar as in the first two races, but we were more competitive. We were quicker and closer to the other teams. I think in Malaysia in Q2 I was in tenth position, only half a tenth from the 11th. And in China I was P7 and with one tenth I was P11 out of Q2 as well. It wasn't a big change that made our lives much easier. It's still very difficult to go into Q3 and still very difficult to fight with the top teams.

Q. You left KERS out in China, what about here?

FA: We are still analysing if it's worth putting KERS or not. We will use some of the Fridays in some of the grands prix to really test. Without testing during the season Fridays became much more important in terms of testing new parts of the car and also KERS. I think it will a decision we will make race by race and at the last moment, maybe on Friday night.

Q. So will you have it in your car tomorrow?

FA: I will never speak about KERS with the press.

Q. How do you regard Sebastian Vettel after his second win?

FA: He's very good. Very young and he has already two wins. I think he has great potential to become champion one day. It depends on your car. Remember last year, the BMW was a good car and everybody was impressed about (Robert) Kubica, very young and fighting for the title. This year, I'm sorry for Robert because the car is not very good, but we seem to forget Kubica and how good he seemed.

Now we talk about the Brawn drivers and the Red Bull drivers. It depends on your car. If Red Bull is good enough for sure Vettel is capable of winning a championship because he proved already twice that he can win races in difficult conditions.

Q. Are you surprised by the Red Bull?

FA: Yes and no. I think every new championship you have to wait and see the first two or three races to see how the cars perform. And we saw straight away in Australia the Red Bull was a good car and Vettel was fighting for second place already. This was a good sign that the car was fast straight away. So it's more or less not a surprise that they won once race this year. If they win more or not, we will see.

Q. How about Ferrari, surprised by their form?

FA: I think we all expect Ferrari to perform well in every championship. When you start the season in Australia, and you ask for the favourite you always say Ferrari because it's been the top team for the last ten years. But obviously Formula 1 is different this year. The cars are a little bit mixed so we need to see. I think Ferrari is a strong team, like McLaren, like Renault, and we will come back. We will improve our cars as well as be at the level of the top teams and Ferrari will do as well.

Q. Do you think Nelson Piquet will be able to find his form?

FA: I think Nelson has been unlucky with some of the qualifyings, because in Malaysia especially he was quite quick. An in China he didn't have the update that I had, so he wasn't in the same condition. Here I'm sure he will improve his performance and I hope we can both score points on Sunday.

Q. You spoke highly of Vettel, do you think Jenson Button has what it takes to be champion?

FA: Yes, I think so. He has the speed and he has been in F1 for eight or nine years now so he as the experience as well. He knows how to complete a championship, in 2004 he finished third I think, when BAR was in good form. For Jenson it's not the first time he is fighting for something important, and now with more experience and good car I think he is capable of winning the championship.

Again, it will depend on how Brawn improve their car during the championship. Now they have a good car. They are favourites again here, so they are scoring points and opening a gap, but they need to keep developing the car if they want to win.

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