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Alonso has faith in Ferrari fightback

Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso of Spain arrives at the paddock ahead of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang International Circ
Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso of Spain arrives at the paddock ahead of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang International Circ

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Fernando Alonso believes Ferrari can still be title contenders despite the Italian glamour team's disappointing start to the Formula One season.

The Spaniard finished ninth in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, one place ahead of team mate Kimi Raikkonen, after fourth places in Australia and Malaysia. Ferrari are fifth in the constructors' standings.

Mercedes have meanwhile streaked into the distance with three pole positions and three wins, including two consecutive one-two finishes for Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

There are 16 races remaining, with China next up.

"Although we did all we could, we can't be happy with our level of performance and now our sole focus must be on working day and night," Alonso, a double world champion with Renault, said after Sunday's race.

"The season is in its early stages and I think we can stage a recovery. We have the resources and the potential to do it and it's all down to us."

Ferrari are testing for two days at the Sakhir circuit this week, with Alonso saying the team had an aggressive programme lined up ahead of the next race in Shanghai.

Technical head Pat Fry said the car had lacked top speed on the straights at Sakhir and the drivers had to drive defensively to finish in the points.

"In Maranello, we are working on solutions to ensure better power delivery and better driveability. We are also trying to improve the efficiency of the car on the aerodynamic front," he said.

"The data we acquired in today's race will provide a baseline for the major checking programme we have planned for the test, right here at Sakhir on Tuesday and Wednesday."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Martyn Herman)

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