ROME, January 28 – New arrival Fernando Alonso said he was confident Ferrari have the machinery to challenge for this year's Formula One title at the presentation of the team's new car, the F10, on Thursday."It’s very exciting. I want to thank the whole team for the great job they have done over the last few months to build this dream, this new car," Spain’s twice world champion said at Ferrari’s Maranello headquarters.
"We are ready to assume the responsibility on the track of taking it to 100 percent of its capabilities.
"I think with Felipe (Massa) we’ll be a very strong team. We hope to make all the Ferrari fans around the world proud to see the red colours win again."
The Italian glamour team are hoping the F10 is a big improvement on last year’s car, the F60, which was outdone by Red Bull and eventual champions Brawn GP, who have been bought by Mercedes.
The most obvious of the many changes is that the car is longer than the F60 to accommodate a fuel tank that is twice as big – a move made necessary by this season’s ban on refuelling. The nose is slender and set high while Ferrari experts said the rear types are 30mm narrower.
Italian motor sport pundits do not expect the F10 to be dominant, in part because of the numerous staff changes Ferrari has undergone over the last 12 months, but they have great faith in Alonso’s ability to work with the team’s engineers to make the car as competitive as possible.
They are also counting on him to counter the threat of Ferrari’s former driver Michael Schumacher, after the seven-time world champion came out of retirement to join Mercedes, who have lost reigning champion Jenson Button to McLaren.
Alonso beat then-Ferrari driver Schumacher to the title in 2005 and 2006 in what some consider were inferior Renault cars.
Massa, who is back in the cockpit this season after recovering from the head injuries he suffering in a horrendous accident in qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix in August, was upbeat too.
"It’s a special presentation after a difficult year – an accident, many things happened in 2009," the Brazilian said.
"I’m very happy and pleased and have greater desire. I hope it will be a really competitive car and we can fight for the championship again, putting Ferrari in front. There’s lots of desire."
Massa is set to test the F10 for the first time in Valencia on Monday, although Italian media said he will also take it out at the Fiorano track later on Thursday to record a promotional video.
Team chief Stefano Domenicali said Ferrari were determined to surge back after coming away from 2009 empty handed.
"It’ll certainly be a very important season for us after one that was not positive for a number of reasons," Domenicali said.
"We are tackling it with the desire to be competitive again, to get back to the highest levels because this is the position Ferrari deserves. We are doing this with humility but also with awareness of our potential. This season has to be a turning point for the future."
The F10’s colours were no secret, as last week Alonso took the F60 for a spin in the 2010 livery, with new sponsors, bank group Santander from his Spanish homeland, featuring prominently.
Ferrari have returned to the tradition of using the year in the name of their race cars after the F60 was named after the number of Formula One world championships the team have competed in.
The 2010 F1 season starts in Bahrain on March 14.