F1: Alonso gives Ferrari a reality check

'Not car to beat after one victory,' says Spanish driver

F1: Alonso gives Ferrari a reality check

(By Paul Virgo) Rome, April 19 - Fernando Alonso has given Ferrari a reality check and dispelled some of the euphoria among fans that followed his victory at the Chinese Grand Prix last weekend. The win confirmed that the Italian team's new race car, the F138, is highly competitive, unlike its predecessors in 2011 and 2012. It also enabled the Spanish driver to move up to third in the standings, nine points behind Red Bull's championship leader Sebastian Vettel, who is aiming for his fourth consecutive world title this year. But it was also the two-time world champ Alonso first win since the German Grand Prix in July. So the 31-year-old, who finished second in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix but crashed out early in the second race in Malaysia, is not getting carried away. "I was very happy, as not winning for a while is a very difficult matter to deal with," Alonso told reporters ahead of Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix. "It was eleven or twelve races that we had not won, even if we were consistently on the podium. "I don't think we are the car to beat at the moment, just because we have this one victory. "In Australia we were clearly not the quickest and in Malaysia we struggled a bit". He suggested that Vettel, who finished fourth in China after qualifying ninth on the grid, is still the fastest man on the track and said Ferrari have ground to make up. "In China, on race pace, Sebastian was quickest in all the stints, but had chosen a strange strategy for qualifying," said Alonso, who won the 2005 and 2006 world titles with Renault. "We need to keep improving and to be a little bit faster. There are some new pieces for this race and new components coming to Barcelona and Monaco. "So hopefully in the next month and a half, we can be at the level of the best cars". Alonso clocked the second-fastest time in Friday's first practice session ahead of Sunday's race behind his Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa. But Alonso was only fourth-fastest in Friday's second session behind Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen and the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Vettel. Massa, who is fifth in the drivers' standings with 30 points, 22 behind Vettel, posted the sixth-fastest time in the second session. Ferrari are second in the constructors' standings with 73 points, five behind Red Bull.

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