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Realistic Alonso ready for a difficult weekend 23 Mar 2012

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 22 March 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 18 March 2012 Ferrari F2012 engine cover detail.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 22 March 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari in the press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 22  March 2012 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 22 March 2012 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW34.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 18 March 2012

As McLaren aim to stay on top, and Red Bull and Mercedes speak of doing all they can to dislodge them this weekend, Fernando Alonso admits that he does not expect any improvement from Ferrari this weekend.

“We have been testing at different circuits: Jerez, Barcelona and then in Australia with more or less the same car with the same problems on it,” said the Spaniard. “The cars are nearly identical for everybody compared with Australia, I guess, so I don’t think there will be big surprises here. Let’s wait and see, and try to adapt the car to the circuit, the conditions, the heat.

“We saw the true performance [in Australia], we are not as competitive as we want, probably, but then in the race anything can happen. In Australia with a good start and the stops and the strategy you can put yourself in a decent place. We will try to do a similar race here and try to defend as many points as possible.”

Alonso loves the track on which he took his first pole and first podium finish back in 2003, but at the same time admitted that it will be hard this year as it is the place when Italian rising star Marco Simoncelli died in last October’s MotoGP event.

“After the accident of Marco last year racing here will be always sad, a little bit, knowing that one of our colleagues died here,” he said. “It will be always difficult to race."

Earlier yesterday afternoon Alonso, Felipe Massa and other Ferrari team members paid a little tribute with a photograph in Turn 11, where Simoncelli fell from his Gresini Honda and was hit by his friends Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi. Later Mark Webber and one or two journalists did likewise.

“I think that will be the memory for him, and the whole Ferrari family and the Italian people will remember him always, and that’s the most important thing,” Alonso said.

The Spaniard made it clear he is under no illusions about Ferrari’s difficult situation, making it clear that he remains calm about the F2012’s recent lack of performance.

“This is Formula One,” he added. “There is not an easy time for anybody. We need to work hard every day and night to normally catch up people in these three years. But anyway, you know, the experience has been fantastic. As you all know, fighting for the world championship in the first year and then last year with one win and 10 podiums. Obviously, the target is always to win the world championship but it was not possible the last two years. This year we are convinced that we will fight for it. We need to stay focused and work more than the others knowing that we are a little bit behind now. But the championship is long. We stay calm, we stay focused, because we see a lot of determination in the team. We see the team with a very good atmosphere, we trust each other in the team, we are very united, so the time will come to us very soon.

“I think we need to wait and see at the start of free practice. We don’t have a crystal ball to envisage our position. I think we need to see how competitive we can be here on this different circuit. As I said, we don’t expect any big miracles from Australia to Malaysia because the cars are identical but who knows? In Australia, no one thought that we could finish fifth. Here, with a normal race, maybe we will finish further behind, maybe with a more crazy race or rain or something, we can finish in front, so we have to play before we see what we can do.”

Meanwhile, Pastor Maldonado, who pushed him so hard in Australia, says he has put his points-losing late-race crash behind him and is raring to go in what it obviously a very good Williams.

“I think we did a great start to the season, we’ve been working so hard from the winter just improving our performance in the car,” said Maldonado. “I feel very confident with the team, so it’s looking forward. We can still be competitive though it is early to say but it’s a good start to the season and we’re looking forward, all of us in the team are pushing so hard, so we feel confident.

“It was a difficult moment for me because I was fighting with Fernando, it was a great fight and very clean, and then the last lap I get too close. I was on the kerb on the wrong side of the track and I just lost the car. I’m disappointed for that because of the team result, but nothing to do. For sure all the team - even myself - were a bit disappointed because we missed a great opportunity to score some important points, but this is racing. I think it was my mistake and now we need to look forward, turn the page. I think our car is competitive at the moment, we need to keep pushing like that, keep concentrated, keep working, focused. This is going to be a new challenge for us because the track is completely different, but we need to believe in our performance and hopefully we will again be in the top 10 and fighting for good places.”

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