Fernando Alonso says Ferrari still have plenty of work to do even after a fifth-place finish in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix went some way to bolster the Italian squad after a troubled start to the season.
Alonso was despondent after qualifying on Saturday at Albert Park, where he finished in 12th place after a spin into the Turn 1 gravel trap.
The two-time world champion made his customary brilliant race start and was eighth by the end of lap one, then fought with the Mercedes of Nico
Rosberg and Mark Webber’s Red Bull before dropping to fifth after a safety car period bunched up the field.
The Spaniard then absorbed consistent pressure from the surprising Williams of Pastor Maldonado in the latter stages before the Venezuelan’s crash left him with a clear run to the flag.
Even with the safety car intervention masking some of Ferrari’s pace discrepancy compared to the front-runners, Alonso was positive about his 10-point haul and the 21-second margin to race winner Jenson Button.
“I think it was quite a good result because it was a tough race for us,” he said,
“We had a good start and managed to gain some positions, so I think that after yesterday’s qualifying for us to be fifth behind the two McLarens and the two Red Bulls is a very good result with a number of points.”
Alonso admits that progress in the early flyaway portion of the season will be difficult to achieve.
“The cars will be nearly identical (for Malaysia) because it’s next weekend, so for China and Bahrain we will bring some updates,” he said.
“The others will too of course, but hopefully ours can work a little bit better and get us higher on the grid for Saturday.
“The first priority has to be to improve the car. Today we fight with a Williams at the end of the race, and we prefer to fight at the front.”
Alonso’s fifth place was his 10th points-scoring finish in 11 starts at Albert Park, a run of consistency in Australia that started when he finished seventh for Renault in 2003.
Alonso’s teammate Felipe Massa had a more difficult day. From 16th on the grid, the Brazilian was never in contention for a points finish, and his race ended on lap 46 after a clash with the Williams of compatriot Bruno Senna at Turn 3 broke his front suspension.