Fernando Alonso has dismissed suggestions he is surely set for a season near the back of the grid.

Fernando Alonso has dismissed suggestions he is surely set for a season near the back of the grid.

Renault's world champion of 2005 and 2006 was back at the wheel of the distinctive new R29 at Jerez on Thursday, continuing the car's run of sluggish test pace since it was debuted recently.

But the Spaniard told Diario AS: "It is still impossible to draw conclusions as to who is going to be fast (this season) and who is not."

On Thursday, it was the new McLaren (still featuring a 2008-spec wing) and Red Bull setting the 2009 car pace, with Alonso at the bottom of the time sheets, four tenths behind Kazuki Nakajima's FW31 Williams.

"Obviously it is better to be ahead than behind," Alonso acknowledged, "but the first race is in Australia and it is there that we need to be quick.

"The cars in Jerez are not going to be the ones in Australia," he added.

Alonso, 27, said the R29's latest setup is making him feel "much more comfortable" than recently in Portimao, when he was reported to have complained bitterly about the handling.

"We have a lot of further work to do," he explained on Thursday, admitting he was happy with the high number of laps he was able to complete.

"We have collected a lot of data and, little by little, we are resolving the problems, which is normal with a car when it is new.

"The car is the same here as when it was presented. We will have to wait for a few more tests for the big improvements," he said.

 

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