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March 4 (Reuters) - Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso warned his Formula One rivals on Monday that he was in better shape than ever.
The Spaniard, a double world champion with Renault, told reporters at a media event for sponsors Santander at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya that the season starting in Australia next week could be his best yet.
“Last year was the best year of my career and I was very happy with the performance, but I think this year will be better,” said Alonso.
”We have a better starting point, and I have learned from some of the mistakes from last year.
“The trust, confidence and motivation are better than any other year and pit stop wise, with starts - all these things - we are constantly learning. I have prepared better. I am better than last year.”
Alonso finished overall runner-up to Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel last year but, in fighting for the title with a car that was not the fastest and that had started the season well off the pace, felt it was the most satisfying of his career.
The new Ferrari F138 has looked far more competitive in testing and Alonso has said it is 200 times better than the old one, which still won three races last year, was at this stage of the season.
The Spaniard did not take part in the first pre-season test in Jerez, preferring to focus on his fitness instead with a regime that Ferrari said was worthy of a top Olympic athlete.
”(Last year) I was obviously motivated and wanted to win, but I arrived in Australia and Malaysia without very much confidence of what we could do and not so much confidence in the car,“ he said. ”I did not have so much trust in what we were doing...we were a little bit lost.
“I am more motivated than last year, but of course I also need a better car than last year because we were too far from the leaders,” added the 31-year-old.
Alonso expected Red Bull, with triple champion Vettel and Australian Mark Webber, to be ahead still in Melbourne but felt a podium should be in reach for Ferrari. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)