Alonso: We’re ready to fight back in China

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Fernando Alonso has said that Ferrari is ready to fight back this weekend at the Chinese Grand Prix after a tough start to the season.

The team has failed to record a podium finish so far in 2014, and in Bahrain its drivers picked up just three points (the exact same number of titles that Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen have between them). With the championships already slipping away and a sixth straight season without a crown on the cards, team principal Stefano Domenicali fell on his sword and resigned earlier this week.

After such a difficult week, Alonso is ready to fight back at a circuit where he has won twice before.

“We’re here to try to improve the situation a little bit, be a little bit more competitive, more than we have shown in the first three races,” the Spaniard explained in the press conference on Thursday in Shanghai. “We’re here to fight back.

“I think we need to be honest with our situation. It’s not where we wanted to be. I think there is a lot of room to improve. We need to become better in all the areas from the car.”

Alonso is banking on the team gradually improving across the course of the season before launching an assault on pace-setters Mercedes in the second half of the year.

“There is a long way to go,” he said. “The championship is very long and we know that probably in the first [part] of the championship we will not be as competitive as Mercedes or some of the teams that now they are on top.

“But as I said we need to maximize what we have in our hands now, try to score as many points as possible and hopefully we can be very competitive later in the season.”

Domenicali’s position has been taken by Ferrari’s former North America CEO Matteo Mattiacci, but president Luca di Montezemolo will also be playing a bigger part in the F1 division of the Italian marque.

Once again, problems with the Ferrari car appear to have ended Alonso’s hopes of a third world title after just a handful of races. However, his never-say-die attitude and enormous ability means that we can’t truly rule him out of the running until we’re well into the 2014 season.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.