It's time for the racing to begin - Alonso

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The ING Renault F1 Team takes the first step of the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship: the Australian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso, who rejoined the team after a year at McLaren, knows that it will be a tough season, but the Spaniard will seize every opportunity that presents itself.

You rejoined the team in January to prepare for the 2008 season. How did you find your first few weeks of work with the team?

"They have been very busy! All has gone well in terms of my arrival and it felt a bit like coming home. I already know everybody; I know the way the team works and I was able to start working well with the team immediately, right from the first test.

"As with any new car we worked hard on the reliability and then started working on the development towards the end of February with the arrival of the latest parts. I did nearly fifteen days of testing between January and February so that I could arrive in Australia as ready as I can be for the new season."

Do you think that the team has succeeded in overcoming the problems of 2007 and will you be ready to fight at the front of the field at the beginning of the season?

"The team was far behind in 2007 and it would have been impossible to overcome that gap this winter. The other teams have also progressed and so it will certainly take a little time to reach a higher level, but I am convinced that we have the potential to get there. The team has shown in the past that they know how to produce a winning car; we just need to continue our efforts and to make sure we don’t lose ground."

After winter testing, which teams do you expect to be strongest at the start of the championship?

"It’s difficult to say with certainty before the first session in Melbourne. All the teams have worked on different programmes during winter testing and so we cannot really predict how things will be. I think that Ferrari will be the team to beat during the first few races – they were strong during 2007 and seem to have performed well over the winter. The first race will be the first real chance to see how the teams compare with each other, and we will then have a better idea of our competitiveness."

Do you expect a difficult first race in Albert Park?

"The first race will not be easy, but I am looking forward to it and the beginning of the championship. Many challenges await the ING Renault F1 Team, but we have worked hard these last few months and it is now time for the racing to begin. I know that a win or a podium in Australia will be difficult, but you never know what can happen during the race. It may rain; the race may take place on a drying track and you can have the chance to spring a surprise. If an opportunity presents itself, I am ready to seize it."