Fernando Alonso says the fact that he is still a close third in the championship despite having a string of disasters in the opening rounds has made him confident he can still challenge for the 2010 title even though Red Bull is currently faster.
Since winning the season opener in Bahrain, Alonso has only once finished on the podium. A first-corner collision with Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher in Melbourne spun him to the back of the field, he qualified only 19th after misjudging changing weather at Sepang then suffered gearbox and engine problems in the race, earned a jump-start penalty in China, and then missed qualifying in Monte Carlo after a practice crash.
In spite of this run of errors and misfortunes, however, he has salvaged enough good results from the races to leave him only three points behind Red Bull duo Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel in the standings six rounds into the season.
"If you think that, of the first six races, four times I found myself last or thereabouts after the opening laps and I am third in the World Championship, three points off the leader, I have no reason not to be confident," he said.
He acknowledged that it would be important not to let Red Bull stretch that lead in Turkey this weekend, especially as the race marked an important anniversary for his Ferrari team.
"Istanbul will be a very important race for us, not just for this championship, but also in terms of the history of Ferrari, as it will be the Scuderia's 800th grand prix," Alonso said. "That will be a further motivating factor to get a good result and try and make it to the podium, hopefully ahead of the Red Bulls.
"The team has worked very hard in the days following the Monaco Grand Prix and I leave for Turkey in a confident and optimistic mood."