Fernando Alonso was one of the stars of 2003, claiming his first podium finish, first pole position and first Grand Prix win, but the Spaniard is not about to start predicting immediate success in 2004. Renault secured its fourth place in the constructors' standings half way through the season but while Alonso is sure more wins will be on the way next year, it's too soon to think about the title.
McLaren's 2004 challenger, the MP4-19, is already on the test track, while Williams' new car should do the same early in January. Ferrari also plans to have its new chassis in action in January but Renault's R24 is not due to be launched until the very end of next month. Alonso doesn't think the rival teams will have the edge by having their cars ready before Renault.
"I don't think that it will be a disadvantage for us," he commented. "For example, look at what happened to Williams in 2003: they were the only one of the top three teams to introduce their new car at the beginning of the season and now we can say that they lost the title in the first part of the year."
Alonso recently won three awards at Autosport magazine's annual ceremony, including Driver of the Year, and the rumour mill has been linking him with a move to Ferrari in the future. Fernando counts that out, at least until after 2005: "No, it won't happen soon because I have a contract with Renault until the end of 2005 so I won't be available before that date," he remarked.