Fernando Alonso is expecting the first few races of the 2014 Formula 1 season to be all about constant improvement and getting to know the new cars as the sport enters a brand new era.
A raft of technical and sporting changes to the sport – most notably downsizing from V8 engines to turbocharged V6 power unit – appears to have shaken up the pecking order. If testing is anything to go by, Red Bull’s dominant spell might come to an end next weekend in Australia, whilst Mercedes and Williams could be the teams leading the way.
However, Ferrari’s Alonso is cautious about making any predictions, but he believes that the first few races will be mainly about trial and error.
“We come to the start of this championship with the team having had twelve days of testing, while as a driver I’ve had six,” the Spaniard explained. “A few more days would have been useful given how much has changed for this season.
“With every lap of testing we learned something and improved pretty much constantly. I think that will still be the case in Australia, especially on the first day and then actually in the first few races.”
Having not won a world title with Ferrari since joining in 2010, Alonso may have his best chance yet this season thanks to the regulation changes. Throughout testing, Ferrari was the fastest team without a Mercedes engine, and the team’s qualifying pace appears to be particularly impressive. Quite whether this pace translates into the long-runs remains to be seen, though.
2014 is undoubtedly a year of change at Ferrari. Following Felipe Massa’s exit, Kimi Raikkonen has been signed, creating a very strong yet possibly volatile pairing with Alonso. For the first time since 1979, the team has two drivers on an equal footing both with a shot of winning the championship. It marks a big change in policy at Maranello, and it remains to be seen quite whether the team will get through 2014 without any war wounds.