Alonso wary of Red Bull's hidden strength

Alonso wary of Red Bull's hidden strength

Red Bull kept their cards close to their chest in winter testing and it would be a surprise if the Formula One champions were not setting the pace at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, according to Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

"I'm not sure about McLaren but Red Bull 100 percent they didn't push the limit of the car because they have this advantage of the last three years that they have a very dominant car, and they feel comfortable," the Spaniard told reporters at the team's Melbourne launch on Thursday.

"They feel optimistic and they will use the full potential in the race when arrives the time."

Red Bull finished winter testing in Spain with little fanfare, with reigning champion Sebastian Vettel, the only driver among the leading five teams not to have topped the end-of-day timesheets, suggesting they had not ticked all the boxes.

While Alonso expected Red Bull to have maintained their edge, he was thrilled with Ferrari's new F138 car, describing it after testing as "200 times better" than its predecessor.

"It will be a surprise if Red Bull is not in front of everybody after the advantage they had last year, but I am also confident, and I am optimistic that we have reduced this gap a lot," added Alonso, dressed in a pair of jeans and a team shirt.

"So, maybe we are not the fastest, but we are not 1.5 seconds behind as we were last year."

Alonso, who won championships with Renault in 2005 and 2006, finished second behind triple world champion Vettel last year despite his F2012 car being plagued by mechanical problems for much of the season.

It was the second time he had finished runner-up to the German in three years and Alonso said it was time to change the equation in his fourth season with Ferrari.