FERNANDO Alonso has said he is anticipating a slow start to Ferrari's Formula One campaign following a wretched pre-season during which the team's technical director Pat Fry has struggled to find too many positives.
Fry claimed the team's latest car would struggle to make it onto the podium at Melbourne's Albert Park following this Sunday's opening race in Australia.
From the moment it was launched the car was labelled as 'ugly', and its performance has so far not been a thing of beauty either.
The suggestion is Ferrari are behind Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes, and perhaps even Lotus, in the pecking order ahead of qualifying on Saturday.
As far as Alonso is concerned, he is becoming accustomed to slow starts, if indeed that is going to be the case this weekend.
"We need to keep working and developing the car because it's not finished yet," said double world champion Alonso.
"Our progress with the car is quite innovative in some areas. There has been quite a big change compared with past Ferraris. But in my case six days of testing is not enough to change (the car) from black to white. It's not a continuation of last year's car.
"We need more time to maximise our potential so we can understand and progress with the car.
"We'll see how competitive we are in qualifying here, Malaysia as well and China, but this circuit is quite special as it is a stop-go circuit.
"There are no long corners or anything that can improve the aerodynamics of the car, so we need to wait a little.
"So it will be no more difficult than last year when we were 1.4 secs behind Red Bull in qualifying.
"I remember in 2009 when I was at Renault we were quick in winter testing, but in the first qualifying we were P14, so I am used to hard starts to the season – unfortunately."
Alonso, though, has faith Ferrari will pull a rabbit out of the hat, convinced their pedigree and will to win will see them through.
"We are all prepared, the team is very, very motivated for this championship, very ambitious," added the 31-year-old Spaniard.
"There is a great spirit to fight for this championship. We want to be world champions, this is the clear target and the first priority.
"In November we have to finish with one more point than the guy in second. It's a long championship in front of us. We have seen in the past a poor start from someone and then a great recovery, or the opposite.
"Here we may not be as quick as some other teams, but we want to be champions in November.
"We are all prepared, we are all united and we trust each other in the team, so we will fight."
As a cycling fan, and as someone who has previously voiced the possibility of forming his own professional team, Alonso drew comparisons with the current record-breaking 20-race season to the Tour de France.
"It's like there are 20 stages and this is the prologue, the time trial," said Alonso.
"There is a determination and attitude to do well, and there is trust.
"We know that sooner or later Ferrari will win races. If you have a strong or slow start it doesn't change much, which is the good thing about Ferrari."