Fernando Alonso refused to make predictions about how he thinks his team will perform this season, but he is happy with what he's seen of the new car thus far.
"I don't have a crystal ball, so I don't feel I can make any predictions," he told reporters at Madonna di Campiglio. "Theoretically, it will be Red Bull, but I say that based only on the fact that, for the past two years, they have won both titles.
"I reckon we will have to wait for at least two or three races," he continued, "which means up to Shanghai, to really understand what the hierarchy is. Maybe some people think that the tests mean something, but that is not the case. On paper, we have everything in place to do well, but I can be neither optimistic nor pessimistic, partly because I have only seen the new car in the wind tunnel and from the diagrams on the engineers' computers. I don't think there will be a big difference compared to the other cars, because the regulations are very clear, but there will definitely be some innovations and good technical ideas."
This week, Ferrari has announced two new additions to the team, Bridgestone tyre guru, Hirohide Hamashima and Mercedes GP's technical consultant, Steve Clark. Alonso is delighted. "All the newcomers are absolutely welcome because they represent a breath of fresh air for the team and bring a new package of experience to the team," he said. "Hamashima is a good acquisition because he looks after an area, tyres, where we suffered last year: we did not manage to maximize our potential, especially with some of the compounds and we hope this situation can improve. What do I expect from Pirelli? First and foremost that they don't change their traditional calendar!"
The Spaniard also took time out to praise former McLaren man Pat Fry, who since last May has been in charge of the technical side of the operation. "Pat has brought new ideas, combining a different approach to the one that Ferrari traditionally adopted towards its work," said Fernando. "If we can get the most out of these various experiences it will be very positive. Already last year, we began to see improvements in all areas compared to the past, but then we stepped up a gear again in the second half of the 2011 season, with a more efficient way of working. I think that the results will be seen even more clearly this year and we won't have to wait, as was the case in 2011, also because we should have resolved the problems of correlation of our wind tunnel data, which afflicted us in the first part of last season."
Alonso, following the team narrative, also hit out at the current restrictions on testing, even though, when it was a member of FOTA Ferrari helped construct them.
"It's an important tool but more than anything, it is a way of assessing some mechanisms," he said. "How much a new technical component can deliver in terms of performance remains a question mark after being tried out only on the simulator. Formula 1 is one of the very few sports in which training is forbidden: you don't ask a footballer or a tennis player to do nothing in between one match and another or for two months prior to a big tournament. Having a go in a kart helps because it is more like driving a single-seater, but it's like telling Leo Messi to train with a little tennis ball or Raffa Nadal to play with a ping-pong bat... We go karting because we have no alternative."
Finally, the double world champ hit out at media intrusion into his private life, his comments coming weeks after it was revealed that he and his wife have separated.
"I have never spoken in public about my private life and I don't want to do so today either," he said. "I can read or hear things from so many sources for example that I am spending time in a place when in fact I am somewhere else. For example, it was written that during the end of year holidays I was in Oviedo, when in fact I was in Los Angeles di San Rafael, near Segovia, just to make it clear.
"It's the first time that I find myself the subject of rumour and gossip at this level and I find it very disappointing," he admitted. "Raquel and I had asked for our private life to be respected, but just a few hours after the announcement of our separation, we began to read so many sad things and some of them were almost funny they were so absurd. I don't think this type of persecution will last long because fashion changes and because I cannot believe there can be so much interest centred on my private life."