The new season is rapidly approaching and the teams are gearing up to battle it out once more. Ferrari will again be the squad everyone is aiming to beat and Renault's Fernando Alonso is confident the R25 can take the fight to the champions. The new car was launched in Monaco last week and Alonso is hoping it can give him regular podium finishes this year.
"They (Ferrari) are the team to beat but we have a good chance of challenging with the new car," the Spaniard said, according to the UK's People newspaper.
"We have improved the power in the car and made it easier to drive, so I want to be on the podium more often. Our aim is to win more and with the improvements we should be given a lot more chances to claim maximum points."
Whether any team can outdo Ferrari remains to be seen but Alonso, like many other drivers, wants to win the world title before Michael Schumacher retires. Winning the title is, obviously, the ultimate goal but it would mean more to take the seven-time champion's crown from him.
"One of my biggest goals is to win the world championship while Schumacher is still around," Alonso stated. "Because winning the title with Michael on the track is 10 times more important than the first title when Michael retires."
Renault held on to second in the constructors' championship for much of last year but was beaten down to third by BAR in the final stages of the season. Alonso finished fourth overall in the drivers' standings and he and the team are aiming for better in 2005.
"It's an important season for me because it's my third with Renault and it's time to see if we can be first and second in the championship, rather than fourth and fifth," he said. "But we want to be first on the grid and the podium when it comes to Melbourne."
Alonso was on the test track at Valencia last week to put the R25 through its paces, along with teammate Giancarlo Fisichella. The pair experienced a few problems while working on experimental set ups but nothing unexpected for a new car.
"Overall, we are very pleased with the car's performance: we know that it is sound and quite competitive," said Renault chief test engineer Christian Silk. "We are still experiencing some problems, but that is normal at this stage of the season."