Fernando Alonso, right, tells a media briefing ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix that Liberty Media's new F1 gameplan must bring about closer racing. Kimi Raikkonen, left, said he wasn't fazed. Picture: Luca Bruno / AP

Sakhir, Bahrain - Fernando Alonso led calls for "closer" racing to be at the heart of Formula One's blueprint for the future on Thursday.

"I think it could be a closer battle, that will be always welcome, but it has been always like that in Formula One," said Alonso with new owner Liberty Media due to unveil its master plan on Friday ahead of this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix.

Speaking to a news briefing, Alonso said it was sad that he could, on a Thursday, forecast the grid that would emerge from qualifying on Saturday.

"I remember watching the TV in the very old days," he said. "I saw a race on television last week from from 1989 or 1990 and apart from the first four cars everybody was lapped - and we remember that time like it was a golden era with big names.

"I think now if you watch a race of IndyCar, or whatever, that unpredictable result until the last 10 laps makes you excited in front of the television. But now in F1 here we can write down the qualifying order for this race, right now, on Thursday and that’s a little bit sad….”

Bottas agrees

Alonso’s call for closer competition was backed by Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes, but Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen shrugged off all interest in the future.

"I don’t know what they’re doing, I know very little about it and I’m not interested either," the Iceman said. "We’ll see tomorrow what they say. It’s in many years' time anyhow and I doubt that I’ll be here so it doesn’t really bother me at all."

F1 managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn is expected to reveal Liberty’s plans, finalised in liaison with ruling body the International Motoring Federation.

Alonso meanwhile believes he and McLaren can unsettle Formula One’s top teams this season and challenge for podium finishes. The fifth-placed finisher in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago said he hopes to be in the mix again in Bahrain.


McLaren’s switch to Renault power after a desultory experience with Honda has revitalised the team and given it a chance to secure some long-awaited success, he said.

"We have closed the gap now and shown we can do it.Now it is down to us. For me, I believe the next two months are crucial for us in this year’s championship – and if we are not fighting for the championship itself, then we are for regular podiums and finishes in the top six.

"It is the first time in the last three years that we have been in this position and now it is up to us to deliver the results."

Agence France-Presse