Monaco: Fernando Alonso has made it clear to Ferrari that he needs a quicker car — fast — and he is hoping the recent shake up within the team's technical department will turn a disappointing season around.
Ahead of Sunday's Formula One Grand Prix in Monaco, the two-time former F1 champion had only managed to finish on the podium once in five races — underlining that the 150 Italia car was clearly lagging behind Red Bull.
"We need a quicker car immediately to fight for the championship," Alonso said. "At the moment we are struggling too much to be a title contender."
The Spaniard did get a glimmer of hope in Thursday's first two practice sessions, finishing just behind defending champion Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull in the morning and beating the German to post the quickest afternoon time.
Alonso narrowly lost the championship to Vettel last year, having to make up too much ground late on.
"Next year we need to start with a better performance" he said. "Because in 2010 and this year we seemed to lose too many points at the beginning of the season."
Perhaps anticipating the growing concerns of Alonso, who recently signed a new contract until 2016, Ferrari's president Luca di Montezemolo and the team principal Stefano Domenicali oversaw key changes this week.
The most significant saw Aldo Costa ousted as technical director, with Pat Fry coming in to take over chassis development.
"We trust what the team does and we have full confidence in Stefano's decisions, and what is best for Ferrari," Alonso said. "We saw the difficult start to the season, we saw the difficult performance from the car and we need a reaction, we need something to make (a) direction change."
Things reached crisis point for Ferrari at last week's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, where Vettel won for the fourth time in five races so stretch his lead to 41 points over Lewis Hamilton — and to 67 over Alonso.
Alonso started brilliantly in Spain, led for 18 laps, but then faded into fifth. Worse, his teammate Felipe Massa slid off the track and retired. That was the last straw for Domenicali.
Alonso still thinks runaway leader Vettel can be caught — providing Ferrari gets some big points on Sunday.
"No one can say bye-bye to the championship after race five," he said. "We need to be confident that we can improve the situation."