Fernando Alonso sees no reason why his new Ferrari team will not be fighting at the front of the grid again next year, even though the Italian team has failed to match the surge up the grid of rivals McLaren.
Ferrari opted to stop development of its 2009 car earlier this year in a bid to focus its efforts on 2010 – which hurt its chances of making much progress up the order in the second half of this season. Although McLaren has ended the year as the team to beat following Lewis Hamilton's strong second half to the campaign, Alonso thinks that current form will have little bearing on pace for 2010.
"I think both started at the back – McLaren started even worse than Ferrari but they did a very good job and now they have maybe the best car," said Alonso. "Here, they were very dominant all weekend and in Brazil also, starting near the back, Hamilton finished on the podium. Really, it is a very quick car.
"But they [McLaren and Ferrari] went with different philosophies. McLaren were pushing with some developments this year, and Ferrari did not. So next year it will be a completely new start for everybody – starting from zero. We have to wait and see which one of the two will have a better car next year.
"It does not matter too much what you do in the last races. We saw with Renault last year, I finished second in Brazil – and you expect then that Renault will be very strong the following year. But we did not get the maximum this year. So every year, every first year of the championship, is a complete unknown for everybody."
Although Alonso acknowledges that developing this year's car may have improved knowledge for next season's car, he reckons Ferrari have made the right call.
"You can always learn things – especially next year there is not a big regulation change as we saw last year," he said. "More or less it is the same in terms of aerodynamics, but with the narrow front tire next year, with the big fuel tanks, some things on the cars will have to change. We will have to prepare the car in a different way with fuel loads for starting the race.
"Until the first race next year we will not know, but I am happy that my future team stopped earlier - because I am sure there will be some benefit. Plus Renault stopped earlier, I fully understand their decision and hopefully they can have a good car next year as well."