Fernando Alonso is bullish about his Ferrari team's chances ahead of the start of the European season in Barcelona, where the Spaniard reckons the proper title fight will kick off.
Alonso enjoyed a dream start to the season thanks to winning the Bahrain Grand Prix, but then endured three troubled races that have relegated him to third place in the standings. The two-time champion, however, is aware that the last three races have been held in unusual conditions, and he reckons the Spanish Grand Prix will be start of the real championship race.
Alonso admitted he has a lot of positives to extract from the flyaway races.
"The championship always starts in the first race, but it's true that it's just a race to confirm the good sensations you've had during testing," Alonso said. "But it's true that in Europe it is time to show who is going to fight for the title and who isn't.
"The first races can be atypical, with changing weather all the time, so now in Europe it's the moment of truth to show who is going to be in the title fight, and also for the teams to prove they can develop faster than their rivals. It's the start of a nice fight."
He added, "There's always frustration on Sunday afternoon when you don't achieve all the points you should have scored, but from a more general perspective, after a week home, these four races have been very positive. Being third in the championship, very few points away from the leader, I believe is a very good situation. With the potential that we have, with the super team that I have, this is just the beginning and I have a real chance to fight for the World Championship, something I couldn't even think about last year after four races."
Alonso, who endured two difficult years at Renault before joining Ferrari this year, conceded he was delighted to be fighting on top once more.
"I'm enjoying it again, and I've felt that bug from winning a race or winning the championship again, and that's the most positive thing about the start to this year. We can't forget that last year during the final part of the season Ferrari was very far from the leaders, so there were a lot of things to confirm and many wishes to grant and they have been granted."
The Ferrari driver insisted he has no concerns about the reliability of his team's engines following the problems suffered in the early part of the season.
"The car is fine. For one reason or another we haven't managed to score as many points as we wanted, but I think we are going to have a good car again in Barcelona. I'm not worried," he said. "As for the engines, we have found the problems that we had. I know there have been things written about the valves and the air consumption system of the engine, which are completely untrue, as it usually happens. We have found the problems and we'll try to do the rest of the season with an engine that's 100 percent reliable."