Fernando Alonso says his Ferrari team's state is '200 times better' going into the 2013 Formula 1 season than 12 months earlier.
The Italian squad had a torrid winter in 2012 after its car proved to be a lot less competitive than expected ahead of the first race of the season. This year, however, the new F138 has proved to be quick out of the box, leaving Alonso optimistic of a stronger start to the year.
Alonso took over from teammate Felipe Massa for Friday's testing at Barcelona, and despite the mixed weather conditions the Spaniard was pleased with his team's progress.
"Obviously the conditions today were a little bit strange, so it's very difficult to compare with last week or last year," said Alonso, who managed 102 laps. Probably the confidence that we have now is much more than we had last year at this time.
"In the last test last year we more or less knew that we were around two seconds behind the leaders. We predicted we wouldn't be in Q3 in Australia, and it was true. This time is different. We are much more confident.
"The target was to reduce the gap we had in Brazil, which was seven or eight tenths, and I hope we have reduced that gap and that we arrive in Australia in a bit better shape than in Brazil, which means 200 times better than last year."
The two-time champion believes there is no reason why he will not be able to fight for the title again this year given what he managed to do with the 2012 car.
"Yes, I think so," he said when asked if he felt he could fight for this year's crown. "I don't see any reasons not to think so."Last year we had a very difficult winter, we were completely lost, we didn't know what the car was doing. And with that car we fought for the title until the last race in Brazil.
"We now have a car that is responding well to what we change, and that is doing what we expect. We know we are maybe not quickest yet, but the potential of the car is there."