By Alan Baldwin
SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) - Ferrari have made a remarkable recovery after a slow start to the season but still have a gap to close on their rivals, Formula One championship leader Fernando Alonso said on Thursday.
Ferrari's Spanish driver, who has a 20-point lead over Red Bull's Australian Mark Webber after winning a home race in Valencia last month, told reporters that the British Grand Prix circuit should suit his car.
He had no doubt that Red Bull still had a performance advantage, however.
"We know that there are still a few cars quicker than our car, so we are still not completely happy," said Alonso.
"But the job that the team has done over the last three or four months has been amazing, recovering the maybe 1.5 seconds, or something like that, that we were off the pace in Australia (in March).
"Now, definitely, we are in a good direction," he added. "There is still a lot to come from the team in the next couple of races and in the next couple of months, in terms of performance in the car, so hopefully they work as they are working now."
Sunday's race threatens to be a wet one, with Silverstone announcing contingency plans for spectators if the campsites and car parks become swamped or too muddy.
Such conditions would pose no problems out on the track for a double champion who comes from one of the wettest regions of Spain and spent his early years in Formula One living in England.
Alonso won a rain-hit grand prix in Malaysia in March and, like most great champions, is at home in whatever the elements throw at him.
His main concern, he said, was being able to fight the likes of Red Bull and McLaren on level terms in an unpredictable season - until Alonso chalked up a second victory there had been seven different winners in the first seven races - that he has benefited from through reliability.
Alonso has now finished in the points in his last 20 races, four short of Michael Schumacher's record run.
"We need to close that gap in the next couple of races if we want to fight for the championship. If not, we know that sooner or later they will be in front," warned the Spaniard.
"At the moment championship positions or points are important but it's not our main priority... first thing is to improve the car."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Matt Barker)