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Although Fernando Alonso believes Ferrari has much work to do, especially in terms of aerodynamics, the Spaniard remains confident.
"At the moment, we are not where we want to be, nor where we want to be in Australia, but I remain optimistic," he said at the end of today's test session. "We still have six days of testing and we will see how it goes.
"It's also hard to say how the others are doing," he continued. "Red Bull is definitely very strong, as is normal in fact, given how they have gone over the past three years, but you can't say that McLaren or Mercedes for example, who seem to be behind, are not strong themselves, maybe even more so than Red Bull.
"This has been a more laborious winter for us than in the past because we have a more complex car, which features very innovative ideas but that requires greater effort from everyone, from the drivers who drive it, the engineers who run and develop it and the mechanics who have to put in over twenty hour days. It's always nice to have a car that is immediately ready, quick and reliable, but that is not always synonymous with winning. Last year, we did a race simulation at the end of the first test and then in Melbourne we were a second and a half off pole position."
Looking specifically at the areas his team is focussing on, he said: "We are trying different components on the exhausts and other areas. Then on the track and back in Maranello, everyone is working hard on analysing the data in order to improve the performance, a job that takes time.
In Jerez, we said that we would start from a more solid base in Barcelona and that has been the case and we hope it will be the same next week at the final session. Then, we are trying to put everything together to be as well prepared as possible for Melbourne, when we will really understand where we are.
"Our targets are ambitious, which they have to be given we are Ferrari and they remain unaltered: we want to be in good enough shape to win right from the very first race. I think we are probably not the quickest today, but neither are we the slowest. In Australia, when the temperatures should be very different, we will know where we are compared to the others."
There is one area where the Spaniard is confident huge strides have been made, the ability of the F2012 to do a time right from the very first lap, the Achilles Heel of its predecessor.
"It's true that from what we have seen so far, we have always done a good job of warming up the tyres and getting the most out of them immediately. This year, the performance between the different types of tyre is much closer and there is not the big difference between one compound and another that we saw in 2011."
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