Fernando Alonso must make the most of being at home

Fernando AlonsoThe Spaniard won in Valencia last year, but that race in the indebted port city is off the 2013 calendar, and he needs to get back on top of the podium at the Circuit de Catalunya. (AP)

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso needs to make the most of home advantage when Formula One's European season starts up in Barcelona on Sunday.

The Spaniard has ground to make up on Red Bull's triple champion Sebastian Vettel after four races in Asia and the Middle East.

"If I was to score our overall performance, I would only give it a six out of 10," Ferrari chief designer Nikolas Tombazis told the Ferrari website (www.ferrari.com) ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

"We are not yet quite where we want to be," he added. "In the first four grands prix we were not really able to fight for pole position and that is one of our main objectives at the moment."

The days when Alonso could count on the emotional boost of two home grands prix are gone.

The Spaniard won in Valencia last year, but that race in the indebted port city is off the 2013 calendar, and he needs to get back on top of the podium at the Circuit de Catalunya.

This time a year ago, Alonso arrived in Barcelona 10 points adrift of world champion Vettel in a battle that ultimately went down to the wire in the German's favour.

Now, despite Ferrari having a much more competitive car and Alonso winning in China, the gap between them is already 30 points and all the top teams are bringing new developments to the track now that they are back in Europe.

Alonso suffered a retirement in Malaysia in March, after losing his front wing when he tagged Vettel at the start, and finished only eighth in Bahrain last month when his rear wing DRS system failed to function.

That problem has been solved and Ferrari have updates to the bodywork, floor and wings.

"With any new component, the difficulty lies not so much in its development but in deciding whether or not it is working on track as well as we had hoped," said Tombazis.

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