Fernando Alonso is raring to go ahead of this season’s open round in Australia at the weekend. Champion of 2005 and 2006, the Spaniard is hoping to challenge for the title this year with the Renault R29, which has proved to be both quick and reliable throughout winter testing.
“I feel very good,” the Spaniard told reporters in Melbourne. “I think we have a very interesting season ahead of us – there are many changed regulations and everybody is looking forward to Sunday’s race. We are curious of how competitive we are after winter testing because it is very difficult to assess where we stand – but we will know very soon.”
The Grand Prix weekend has already started in controversial fashion with a protest being launched by Renault, along with Ferrari and Red Bull, towards the radical diffusers sported by the Toyota, Williams and Brawn GP teams. “
Unfortunately we have had to face a bad last couple of weeks for the sport,” Alonso continued. “There was the change of rules, the attempt to change the point system and now the diffuser issue.”
Fernando was particularly critical of the manner in which many of the modifications have taken place, and believes F1’s image could pay the price: “For the fans it is impossible to understand what is going on – how Formula One can start a season with so many doubts and changes to last year? We have to settle all of these issues and then we can enjoy the races, have fun in the cars and let the spectators enjoy it too.”
Whatever the result, the spectators have a high chance of seeing a dramatic race on Sunday as, in 2008, just 7 cars crossed the finish line in Australia following many incidents and accidents. “The first race of the championship is very exciting,” Alonso added. “One of my strong points is consistency and not making too many mistakes; in Melbourne not many cars finish the race, so it is important to finish and, if you do, you’re very likely to be at the front.”
Renault is the fourth team to be running the new Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) in Australia, with Ferrari, McLaren and BMW (for Heidfeld only) also using the device; Alonso also thinks, of all the changes for this season, this is the largest: “The KERS device is still something that is unpredictable, as this will be the first time that we will use it in a race situation, as so far we have only used it in testing. It keeps me very busy in the cockpit – sometimes too busy!”