Spanish GP: Ferrari's Fernando Alonso confident of title challenge
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso said after winning the Spanish Grand Prix that he was confident of making a strong world title challenge this year.
Alonso's win moved him into third in the standings, 17 points behind leader Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, who is four ahead of Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen.
"We have a competitive package, especially on Sundays," Alonso said.
"We need to make it a little faster on Saturdays. We are working on that but it is looking good."
“The supporters will have a smile for one afternoon, one night, and it is not the easiest time for the country at the moment”
Alonso qualified only fifth in Spain but fought through to win after moving up to third on the first lap and then using an aggressive four-stop strategy that allowed him to exploit the Ferrari's race pace.
It was his second victory of the year, to follow on from a win in China last month, and he finished second to Raikkonen in Australia, the only other race in which he has not had problems.
In Malaysia, he damaged his front wing in a collision with Vettel on lap one and then retired when it broke after he did not come in to change it.
In Bahrain, he finished eighth after problems with his DRS overtaking aid.
Alonso said: "We have only had five races in the championship. In these five races, we have nearly two retirements and without this we were maybe leading now a little comfortably.
"So what we need to do is have consistent podium results for the next four or five races and that will bring us a lot of points to put in the pocket."
Alonso had a scare when one of his tyres got a puncture before his final pit stop, but the team were able to bring him in two laps earlier than planned to avoid a problem.
"We decided to play safe after Malaysia, where we were a little bit brave trying to do one extra lap with the front wing broken and we crashed in that lap.
"Here it could have affected the strategy because it was stopping too early, but it was OK and didn't affect the result."
The victory was Alonso's third in his home country, following his 2006 Spanish Grand Prix win for Renault and last year's victory in the European Grand Prix in Valencia.
He was cheered by the packed grandstands and afterwards paid tribute to the fans, making a reference to the troubled economic situation in Spain as a result of the Eurozone crisis.
"It is fantastic," he said. "Winning at home is always like you did it for the first time. It is the third time for me but each time is always different, like a new experience.
"The supporters will have a smile for one afternoon, one night, and it is not the easiest time for the country at the moment, so I'm happy for them and thanks to them for the support."
Raikkonen finished runner-up to Alonso, his third second place in a row, and said: "We are here to try to win races and championships. I want to win; the team wants to win.
Fernando Alonso in Spain
- Alonso has now won 32 grands prix in his career, putting him fourth in the all-time list - only Michael Schumacher (91), Alain Prost (51) and Ayrton Senna (41) have won more
- He has only won the Spanish Grand Prix once before, when he was a Renault driver in 2006
"It's disappointing to finish second but if anything we gained some points on Sebastian today so something good came out of today.
"It helps if you cannot win to be second but I don't think it is enough in the long run. We have to keep finishing higher up and when we have a bad day try to make the best out of them and try to minimise them."
Vettel finished fourth for the second time this season, beaten to the final podium spot by Ferrari's Felipe Massa.
"I wouldn't talk about frustration," said Vettel, who has taken two wins and a third place in the other two races this season.
"We still finished fourth and got some good points, we wanted more but we just didn't have the tyres to fight with the guys in front. We can be happy with fourth."
Spanish Grand Prix, day three
- Sunday, 21 April: Race highlights BBC Three 19:00