BARCELONA – Fernando Alonso came close to winning his third Formula One championship last season in a Ferrari that was not the quickest car and now he will try again with one he says is 200 times better.
Simple logic would suggest that this season the 31-year-old has his best chance yet of becoming the 10th driver to win a title for the Italian glamour team, joining a list of greats that includes Juan Manuel Fangio, Niki Lauda and Michael Schumacher.
Being crowned with the most successful team in the history of the sport, one that has competed in every championship since the first in 1950, would be a career high for a driver who is already Ferrari’s clear number one.
To be a Ferrari favourite you do not have to win the championship for the Maranello team - Gilles Villeneuve and Nigel Mansell never did - but Alonso wants more than just love and respect.
The Spaniard won three races in 2012 and, against the odds, finished on the podium 13 times in 20 starts. Despite losing out in the end, Alonso declared it a ‘dream season’ but he feels the best is yet to come.
“Last year was the best year of my career and I was very happy with the performance, but I think this year will be better,” he said this week.
“We have a better starting point, and I have learned from some mistakes of last year... I have prepared better. I am better than last year.”
Give him the tools and Alonso, twice a champion with Renault in 2005 and 2006, can make the difference. He knows it and so do the team, who have done everything they can to give him a winning machine.
“Last year we had a very difficult winter and we were completely lost. We didn’t know what the car was doing. We didn’t understand what was going on in the wind tunnel and on the track,” he said at the final pre-season test last week.