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Ferrari revved up for F1 title fight

March 8, 2013 -- Updated 1545 GMT (2345 HKT)
Stefano Domenicali wants Ferrari to challenge for a first drivers' title since 2007.
Stefano Domenicali wants Ferrari to challenge for a first drivers' title since 2007.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Stefano Domenicali convinced Ferrari can challenge for F1 world title
  • Ferrari's Fernando Alonso missed out to Sebastian Vettel in last race of 2012
  • The Italian team has not won a drivers' championship since 2007
  • The 2013 Formula One season begins with March 17 Australian Grand Prix

(CNN) -- Stefano Domenicali insists his Ferrari team is ready for a tilt at the 2013 Formula One world championship, with the Italian team principal setting his sights on the podium at next week's curtain raiser in Australia.

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, a two-time world champion, was beaten to the 2012 championship by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel at the final race of the season having seen his challenge hampered by a stuttering start to the campaign.

Alonso and his teammate Felipe Massa struggled to match the speed of their rivals in the early races of last season, something Domenicali insists will not be a problem this time around.

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"Unless someone else has done an exceptional job I'm convinced that Ferrari will be in the battle to the end," Domenicali told the sport's official website.

"I expect that the teams who finished in the top positions in Sao Paulo (last season's final race) will repeat that in Melbourne, probably with a reduced advantage -- that's what we are all hoping for anyway.

"A podium in Australia would be a good base on which to build the kind of successes we need."

Spanish driver Alonso was heralded for keeping pace with Vettel, who claimed his third consecutive drivers' crown, despite having a car many observers thought was too slow to compete.

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After encouraging preseason tests, Domenicali is confident Alonso can deliver a first drivers' title since 2007 for the sport's most successful manufacturer.

"What are the factors that have convinced me that Ferrari has made a step forward?" continued Domenicali.

"The new business structure, the working methods, the modifications to the equipment that we have used to work on this car, the consistency of the results compared with our targets and what we saw in the recent tests.

"These all seem to tell us that we are on the right path at last compared to the past."

Ferrari will be entering its 63rd season in F1 this year, the only team to have competed continuously since the modern championship was introduced in 1950.

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