Following the completion of his first complete race simulation with the F14 T, Spaniard Fernando Alonso speaks out about winter testing so far and his expectations for the upcoming season.
Alonso managed to complete 55 laps on Friday without coming back to the pits, confirming the car's reliablity and verifying its fuel consumption.
“It’s important to have been able to get through so many laps this winter", Fernando Alonso said. "We have important data both on the level of potential performance and on the set-up and how the new components are working. One thing’s for sure: Ferrari has really done a great job and I’m sure that we will be competitive. I can’t say if we will be at the front or behind someone else but we will definitely be up there at the top among the best.”
Being happy with the current state of affairs, Alonso, who has often repeated that Formula One from a drivers' perspective will unlikely be very different this year, reckons it's not that difficult to manage fuel consumption or fuel. He believes there will however be a bigger difference between qualifying and race pace.
“I’d say that there are not huge differences in how you manage a race distance: without going into too much detail I can say that many things have stayed the same. Last year we had to manage tyres from the first lap and this year it’s the same, with the extra point that the car seems slower thanks to the increased weight and the reduction of the available aerodynamic downforce. You also have to manage fuel consumption and the batteries. There are therefore few big changes even if the time to complete the race distance will inevitably go up. The biggest differences this year will probably be seen between the race and qualifying because you will really be able to push hard on Saturdays.”
Now that the engine has been sent to the FIA for homologation, its main performance characteristics are fixed. The Spaniard confirms that the power band is quite different, and the sudden surge of torque upon acceleration will be the main factor to take into account for drivers.
“When it comes to drivability, the new engine requires a few changes in driving style, both in the corners and on the straights. The main difference is in the distribution of the power, which is more immediate and less progressive. We must learn to understand the car’s behaviour given that, and it will be necessary to almost anticipate it with our reactions, because you get an intuition about how it will behave at certain points: overall it’s a bit harder to drive in a clean and precise way. On the straights too the sensations are different. Last year we had a KERS that gave us 80bhp more, this year we have 160bhp extra and you really can feel the push.”