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Alonso wary of McLaren, Honda 12 May 2006

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault at the unveiling of the homage to himself at Champions' Avenue.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, 11 May 2006 Fans of Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, 11 May 2006 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, 11 May 2006 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, 11 May 2006 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, 11 May 2006

Renault admit that they are under pressure from a resurgent Ferrari in Barcelona this weekend, but Fernando Alonso still believes that his opposition this time will come from McLaren and Honda.

“I think we’re still the four teams which should fight for victory in all Grands Prix,” he said on Thursday. “In the first five races, everything worked perfectly for Renault and Ferrari and we won all five races but I think McLaren and Honda have the pace as well and they normally qualify really well, especially Honda. McLaren normally do something more in the race, always close to the podium and I’m sure that if one weekend goes right for them, it will also be a close fight and I think what we have to do is work on our car, on our programme, our strategy, do as good a weekend as we can, as we did in the first five races and the result will be good in the end.”

Felipe Massa, however, fresh from his podium finish in Germany, believes that Ferrari will be very strong here and won’t be disadvantaged by their decision to test away from Barcelona over the winter.

“We did also test at this track and we understood many important things, many good things. We improved the car a lot, especially in the last two races, so I think we can probably be very, very competitive, as we were at the Nurburgring and also at Imola.”

Alonso, naturally, would love to defeat Ferrari - and in particular Michael Schumacher - in front of his home fans, with whom he spent a lot of time yesterday afternoon. He admits that beating the multiple champion is more special than beating anyone else.

“Yes, normally yes. Many times I think that to beat the big names and big drivers and big cars normally gives you more motivation and more excitement. I think that Michael - as a seven-times world champion - it is always nice to fight with him and there is more pressure than to beat any other one. But always winning races and overtaking people is always exciting, even if it is anyone.”

So can he do it again?

“We saw that in the last two races Ferrari was coming very strong and won the last two races but I think it is difficult to see how the development is compared with them because we have Michelin tyres. I think compared to McLaren we’ve gone up and then, as well as improving the car race by race, we are beating them normally in the races. And with Ferrari, we don’t know because the tyres look to be more important than anything else. The Bridgestone tyres were working very well in the last two races and hopefully here we will come back fighting and McLaren also.”

Indeed, if McLaren and Honda can improve their act a little this weekend, it really could be a four-way fight.