Fernando Alonso believes Ferrari is on-track to return to Formula 1 World Championship contention in 2012, after a year spent struggling to match the pace of key rivals Red Bull and McLaren.
The 30-year-old Spaniard, speaking ahead of the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix which takes place at Interlagos in Brazil on Sunday, said that he has seen significant improvement in Ferrari this season and that what he knew of next year's challenger had convinced him he could fight for a title again next year.
"I am confident to be fighting for the World Championship again next year and what makes me confident is that I am with Ferrari," Alonso told reporters. "I am quite happy from a personal point of view [with] how 2011 went. How the team approached this season and how we improved in areas where last year we were weak – so, overall, it is much stronger this year than last. Now I feel with a competitive car we can be very, very strong and we can be fighting for the championship.
"Last year, even with a competitive car we still had weak areas where we were maybe not good enough, like the start, like the strategies, some driver errors, some conservative approaches to the grand prix. All those things have been improved, and now I think we have a very strong team compared with last year. Now I feel that we only need the car. Last year we needed more things than just the car."
Alonso dismissed the importance of finishing second in the 2011 drivers' championship standings – the Spaniard is currently third 10 points behind Jenson Button – but said that he was keen to finish off the season with a victory, though it would be difficult without the assistance of adverse weather conditions.
"Maybe with the possibility of rain or something on Sunday maybe we can see a more unusual race with not always Red Bull, Mclaren and Ferrari in the first five or six races," he said. "Very difficult. Very unlikely.
"We were expecting some good competitiveness of the car in India, Korea and Abu Dhabi but we also hoped for some strange races like in Korea for example we expected some rain or some more factors in the race. But we had very standard races in the last four or five, with dry weekends all the way through and with the potential at the moment of Red Bull and McLaren we were nowhere near victories.
"So, here I think it will not change too much. The victory remains very unlikely, but we will have to go for it. We are professional and we are competitive people so on Sunday for sure we will go for the win if it is possible."