Fernando Alonso optimistic he has a better chance of title success this year than in 2012
Championship-chasing Spaniard currently fourth in the standings
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 09/05/13 6:17pm
The Spaniard slipped to fourth in the standings after a difficult Bahrain GP and in excess of a full race victory behind Vettel.
But despite the size of the deficit, the Ferrari driver believes he is still in far better shape to win a third title this year than he was twelve months ago when he was a paltry ten points behind his Red Bull rival after the opening four races.
"Last year we were 1.5 seconds behind the top cars," Alonso reflected during the Drivers' Press Conference ahead of this weekend's Spanish GP.
"This year we have finished two races without problems and we were second in Australia and won in China. It's a very different feeling - and very different package which brings us optimism and confidence.
"It's true we are some points behind, but the championship is long and we have seen last year that Sebastian was 43 points behind us after the summer break and arrived with the lead in Austin. In five or six races you can recover 50 points with some consistent results.
"Until we are 75 or 80 points behind, we should be optimistic."
By common consent, the F138 is light years ahead of the ill-handling F2012 which Alonso effectively out-muscled to take last year's championship battle to the wire. If the new car has a weakness, it looks to be in qualifying with Alonso yet to line up on the front row this season. History would suggest that any such shortcoming will be particularly burdensome at Circuit de Catalunya, a venue which has seen 14 of the last 16 pole-sitters progress to victory.
But Alonso is confident that F1's new vagaries have severely diluted the importance of Saturday's shoot-outs - at least this weekend.
"Race pace and tyres are a key factor and more than previously," he reflected. "Obviously, it's good to start on the front and if you start on the front row you can almost touch the podium with your hand. But the first really important qualifying will arrive in two weeks at Monaco. Here it is still more or less a normal circuit and you need to find a compromise."