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Alonso fears Brawn pace

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F1 Mole | 08:28 UK time, Friday, 13 March 2009

There has been a great deal of scepticism around the stunning times the new Brawn GP car has been setting in this week's Barcelona test.

How, many in F1 have wondered, can a car straight out of the box from a team whose survival was only secured a week ago - and has spent the two seasons at the back of the grid as Honda - be faster than those that have been running for more than a month?

And the cynics point out that the team needs to attract some sponsors - and some eye-catching headlines never do any harm on that front.

Senior figures at the Brawn team - including boss Ross Brawn and drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello - have been careful to play down their expectations in public.

But if anyone doubted that Brawn could be a major force this season, they might change their mind after reading Fernando Alonso's thoughts on the subject.

brawn416.jpg

The double world champion told Spanish reporters on Thursday that the Brawn was genuinely quick.

"The times being set by Ferrari, Brawn or BMW are for the moment out of reach," the Renault driver said.

"You have to think that finishing fifth here (in testing), with only one car per team, represents 10th place in the race. There are three or four teams who are a step ahead of us.

"Even then, it's not all about winning the first race in Melbourne because the championship is very long. There have been many changes and this season will not be a closed battle between Ferrari and McLaren."

Followers of F1 will remember that Ross Brawn spent a long time courting Alonso last season when his team were in their former guise of Honda - but that despite being offered effectively an open chequebook, the 27-year-old preferred to stay at Renault, buoyed by their late-season form.

Alonso could be forgiven for having a few sleepless nights about that decision right now - even allowing for the fact that he is considered a racing certainty to join Ferrari in the next year or two.

Which, incidentally, is a subject the Mole will return to in the coming weeks.

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