SAO PAULO, Nov 24, 2011 (AFP) - Fernando Alonso said on Thursday he is confident Ferrari will return to winning ways in 2012, after struggling to match the pace of title-winning rivals Red Bull this season.
This Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix will mark the end of the 2011 season, in which Alonso has won just once, at the British Grand Prix in July.
But the 30-year-old Spaniard said he felt Ferrari have made enough significant improvements to convince him that he will be able to challenge for the title next year.
He said: "I am confident to be fighting for the world championship again next year and what makes me confident is that I am with Ferrari.
"I am quite happy from a personal point of view (with) how 2011 went, how the team approached this season and how we improved in areas where last year we were weak, so overall it is much stronger this year than last.
"Now I feel with a competitive car we can be very, very strong and we can be fighting for the world championship.
"Last year, even with a competitive car, we still had weak areas where we were maybe not good enough, like the start, like the strategies, some driver errors, some conservative approaches to the Grands Prix.
"But all those things have been improved and I think that now we have a very strong team compared with last year. Now I feel that we only need the car. Last year we needed more things than just the car."
Alonso said he is not concerned about finishing second in the 2011 drivers' championship -- he is currently third, 10 points behind Briton Jenson Button of McLaren -- but would love to finish this season with a win.
"Maybe with the possibility of rain or something on Sunday, maybe we can see a more unusual race with not always Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari as in the first five or six races," he said.
"But, I think that is -- well, very difficult. And very unlikely.
"We were expecting some good competitiveness of the car in India, Korea and Abu Dhabi, but we also hoped for some strange races -- like in Korea, for example, we expected some rain or some more factors in the race.
"But we had very standard races in the last four or five, with dry weekends all the way through and with the potential at the moment of Red Bull and McLaren, we were nowhere near victories.
"So, here, I think it will not change too much. A victory remains very unlikely, but we will have to go for it.
"We are professional and we are competitive people so on Sunday, for sure, we will go for the win if it is possible."
His Ferrari team-mate and local hero Felipe Massa said he hoped that home advantage would give him a boost as he seeks to deliver his first podium finish in more than a year.
The last time Massa, now 30, was on the podium was in the inaugural Korean Grand Prix last year.
But as a two-time winner at Interlagos -- in 2006 and 2008 -- he can draw on his past achievements on home soil and hopes to complete a hat-trick of wins on Sunday.
He said: "When you race at home, it is like a different championship. I am so happy to have achieved two victories here in Sao Paulo already and I'm looking forward to another strong weekend.
"We have the same car -- no new parts -- but I think when you race at home, it is better. I think you feel that extra power from the people, which helps.
"So I hope I can fight for the podium and I am looking forward to having the best result of my season this weekend."