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Alonso ignores politics, but Hamilton still strongest rival this season


By Berthold Bouman

Alonso ignores politics but Hamilton still strongest rival this seasonDuring Ferrari’s annual ‘Vrooom’ press meeting at Madonna di Campiglio in Italy, Fernando Alonso said he doesn’t want to be involved in politics. He reacted on recent remarks from other drivers and said, “I don’t think I am good at politics, I just drive the car. Some recent remarks have surprised me, but I can’t see the sense in them.”

The Spaniard said Lewis Hamilton, who moved from McLaren to Mercedes this season, is still his main rival, “Why do I say Hamilton is the strongest? Because it’s what I think, it’s my personal opinion and there is nothing political in that. Lewis has always won races ever since he has been in Formula One, even in years like 2009, when he had started the season with a car that was two seconds off the quickest.”

The 2005 and 2006 World Champion thinks Mercedes is ready to win more races this season, “When you look at what happens on track, you are well aware of what he [Lewis] is doing, that’s a fact. Last year, Rosberg won in China, therefore I expect that this year, Lewis in a Mercedes can win more than one race.”

And of course triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel will also be a strong contender for this year’s title. “There have been periods, like in 2011, when his performance level was fantastic and he was definitely the best,” said Alonso about the German.

Fernando Alonso at the 23rd Vrooom meeting - Photo: Ferrari

Fernando Alonso at the 23rd Vrooom meeting – Photo: Ferrari

But Alonso can’t look into the future, “As of today, it’s impossible to say who will be our strongest rivals in 2013. Who will have the best car, who will have done the best job of preparation and had the best development, who will be the luckiest: there are so many factors which go to make the strongest combination of driver and team.”

The man from Oviedo, Spain, reckons the exhaust development will once again play an important role this season, “It’s true it’s not as important as two years ago, but we saw last year that it still played a significant role and that everyone worked on it a great deal.”

He’s also confident the Pirelli tyres won’t cause any problems in 2013, “The tyres are not as critical, unless there is a specific problem, as for example we had with the hardest compound in 2011: they are the same for all the teams and, if they are within the mean point, they won’t make the difference, neither for the better nor for the worse.”

But Alonso, like Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, has one wish for the future: less races, and more testing. “Twenty races is a lot and it’s not easy to maintain a maximum performance level, both physical and mental, for the whole year. Maybe it would be better to have one or two fewer races and a few more test sessions,” he said.

Testing will start on February 5, in Jerez, Spain.

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