Jan 12 Fernando Alonso has credited former McLaren man Pat Fry with bringing fresh ideas to Ferrari, even if it is still too early to say how the new car will match up to Formula One champions Red Bull this season.
Fry was promoted to technical director at Formula One's oldest and most successful team in May last year after moving from rivals McLaren, where he had worked with double world champion Alonso in 2007, in July 2010.
Ferrari won just one race last year, with Alonso in Britain, but hope to do much better this season after a technical overhaul that continued on Wednesday with the arrival at Maranello of former Bridgestone tyre development chief Hirohide Hamashima.
"Pat has brought new ideas, combining a different approach to the one that Ferrari traditionally adopted towards its work," Alonso said in his first news conference of the year at a team event in the Dolomites ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio.
"If we can get the most out of these various experiences it will be very positive.
"Already last year, we began to see improvements in all areas compared to the past, but then we stepped up a gear again in the second half of the 2011 season, with a more efficient way of working," he added.
Ferrari struggled in the first part of last year after the car's performance on the track failed to match the data emerging from the wind tunnel, which was found to be at fault.
Alonso said that problem should now have been resolved but it would still take several races before it became clear just how good the new car is, whatever the lap times set in pre-season testing next month.
Ferrari will launch the car at Maranello on Feb. 3 with the season starting in Australia on March 18.
"I don't have a crystal ball, so I don't feel I can make any predictions," said the Spaniard when asked which team would be Ferrari's main rivals.
"Theoretically, it will be Red Bull, but I say that based only on the fact that for the past two years they have won both titles. I reckon we will have to wait for at least two or three races, which means up to Shanghai, to really understand what the hierarchy is.
"On paper, we have everything in place to do well, but I can be neither optimistic nor pessimistic, partly because I have only seen the new car in the wind tunnel and from the diagrams on the engineers' computers," said Alonso.
"I don't think there will be a big difference compared to the other cars, because the regulations are very clear, but there will definitely be some innovations and good technical ideas." (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Alison Wildey)