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Q&A with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso 12 Feb 2010

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari (Left). Formula One Testing, Day Two, Valencia, Spain, Tuesday 2 February 2010. Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 10 February 2010. Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10 passes his pit board. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Jerez, Spain, Thursday 11 February 2010. Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Valencia, Spain, Wednesday 3 February 2010. Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Jerez, Spain, Thursday 11 February 2010.

The Spanish fans have flocked to the Jerez track this week in their thousands to see their national hero, Fernando Alonso, test his new Ferrari. On Thursday Alonso was just a few laps shy of completing a race distance on one of his runs, and after pushing the F10 - and its tyres - to their absolute limits, he’s feeling pretty confident…

Q: Fernando, how did it go on Thursday?
Fernando Alonso:
It was pretty good. We are concentrating on the number of laps that we do, trying to make the car reliable and push some parts of the car to the limit in terms of mileage. We are happy with the car, and we are also happy that we were able to put in quite a number of laps on Wednesday despite the poor conditions. I am very happy in all aspects and Felipe (Massa) and the team will keep up the work tomorrow.

Q: Is it a dream come true to drive for Ferrari? Does it feel special?
FA:
It feels very special, still. It’s a big team and to be part of a legend is a nice feeling. I am enjoying it as the team have been very good with me, which made me feel at home right away from the first day.

Q: What are your thoughts on the return of your great opponent Michael Schumacher? Are you excited you’ll race against him again?
FA:
Yes, of course. I enjoy the big names, the big battles, and for sure it is very special to race with him again. If you think about a race win or a battle that is taken to the limits, then it is always more special against him than any other driver.

Q: Last year the enthusiasm of the Spanish fans faltered a little. Will we see the crowds back?
FA:
I hope! It’s a good time at the moment in Spain with many sportspersons at the top level - hopefully that also goes for Formula One.

Q: You completed 50 laps this morning, which is almost a race distance. How different did the car feel from the first lap to the last lap?
FA:
It was different, but to be honest, the degradation of the tyres balances with the depleting fuel. In a way at the end of the day the car feels similar on every lap because of the tyres - you lose a bit of grip, but you gain a bit because of the fuel - so the difference is rather marginal. It was a good test as we pushed the tyres to the limit. We’ve been working with Bridgestone very closely to discover where the limits of the tyres are with the much heavier cars. We gathered very useful information and that’s what tests are all about - to get good, valid information for the races. Today we’ve found answers to some of the important issues. What felt good was that the reliability of the car seems to be excellent - and we saw last season how much reliability made a difference.

Q: The Jerez track is a better gauge of a car’s potential than Valencia. Did you learn anything new?
FA:
Due to Wednesday’s rain we were running with the Valencia set-up and didn’t test anything special here. The priority was to do a lot of laps and push the engine, the gearbox and all other parts to the limit of the mileage and I think the car feels good. Sure there are some set-up possibilities to find a couple of tenths but that will become an issue later.

Q: The tyres used here are different compounds to the ones you used last week in Valencia. Do they warm up as well here? Are the harder tyres more difficult to use?
FA:
It was also good here. The warm up was good. We had some graining with the tyres, but from what I understand that happened to all the teams. But after a few laps you go through the graining and the tyres come back a bit. We all have the same tyres, so at the end of the day we all have the same problem. It’s good to do a lot of laps but the hot temperatures in Bahrain will change the whole picture, so we need to be very careful with all the data from the tyres.

Q: Would you count yourself as a contender for the 2010 title?
FA:
Well last year, when the Brawns came to the last test and all the other teams had already shown their hand, it became clear immediately that they had a potential winner. This year things look very different. Nobody sticks out so much from the rest that you can say that this is the car you have to beat. I predict that we will have to wait until the race in Bahrain to see the pecking order.