Alonso, politics and rivals: a lot has been said about this triumvirate during 2012 and someone – over the other side of the Alps – has felt the need to kick off 2013 on the same note. Clearly, the media who do their job and usually enjoy these verbal skirmishes, made the most of the situation, repackaging some of these now classic questions for Fernando. The Spaniard did not want to get caught up in a war of words and replied with wit. “I don’t think I am good at politics, I just drive the car. Some recent remarks have surprised me, but I can’t see the sense in them. Some say they don’t read them, don’t hear them and don’t see them, before adding that they are not influenced by them: so clearly they do read them, maybe at night…Why do I say Hamilton is the strongest? Because it’s what I think, it’s my personal opinion and there is nothing political in that. Lewis has always won races ever since he has been in Formula 1, even in years like 2009, when he had started the season with a car that was two seconds off the quickest. When you look at what happens on track, you are well aware of what he is doing, that’s a fact. Last year, Rosberg won in China, therefore I expect that this year, Lewis in a Mercedes can win more than one race.”

“I did not say that Vettel was not the strongest or that he did not deserve his three titles,” continued Fernando. “There have been periods, like in 2011, when his performance level was fantastic and he was definitely the best. As of today, it’s impossible to say who will be our strongest rivals in 2013. Who will have the best car, who will have done the best job of preparation and had the best development, who will be the luckiest: there are so many factors which go to make the strongest combination of driver and team.”

“On the technical front, I think that this year, the key will again be the management of the exhausts” said Fernando, on the topic of 2013. “It’s true it’s not as important as two years ago, but we saw last year that it still played a significant role and that everyone worked on it a great deal. The tyres are not as critical, unless there is a specific problem, as for example we had with the hardest compound in 2011: they are the same for all the teams and, if they are within the mean point, they won’t make the difference, neither for the better nor for the worse.”

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