Ferrari's shock victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix has blown open the fight for the Formula 1 World Championship, reckons McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh.
Ferrari has openly admitted that it is in damage limitation mode until a heavily updated car is unleashed for the Spanish Grand Prix, but Alonso's brilliant performance to win at Sepang has now left him at the head of the title chase. That has significantly increased the chances of Ferrari being able to join a championship battle that had appeared to be boiling down to a straight head-to-head between McLaren and Red Bull.
After the surprise in Malaysia, Whitmarsh said: "The championship is wide open. We are in a reasonable position to win more races and the championship, but that requires us to perform well, not make mistakes and continue to develop car at a decent rate."
Ferrari is expected to test an updated F2012 – with revised sidepods and rear bodywork packaging – at the Mugello test in May, prior to it being raced for the first time in Spain. When asked if he was worried that allied to Ferrari's better than expected start to 2012, the team could have a dramatically improved car by Spain, Whitmarsh said: "You always do. When trying to win the championship you are always worried, and you hope you can deliver a little bit more performance.
"If you are honest about it, at the back of your mind you worry that someone may turn up having had a Eureka moment and might overhaul you. But it is a long, long championship ahead. We are not in bad shape but certainly nothing is taken for granted. No one can say with confidence the outcome of this year's World Championship, and that is just how it should be."