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Contenders cautious as Valencia test ends

 Fernando Alonso on Thursday said he was calm amid reports more adventurous car designs could set the pace in 2011.

With its radical front-exiting exhausts, the new Renault driven by Robert Kubica set the fastest time of all as the first group test of the pre-season concluded.

“Futuristic projects are not always better than more conservative ones,” insisted Ferrari’s Alonso, according to La Stampa newspaper.

“I have my traditional Ferrari and I’m happy that way,” he added.

The Spaniard had joked earlier that the only thing he has noticed about Red Bull’s new car was its unchanged livery.

Now also asked about the newly Lotus-sponsored Renault, Alonso answered: “One (the Red Bull) has the same colours as before, the other (the Renault) is different.”

Christian Horner, boss of the reigning champion Red Bull team, told Sport Bild that he too is cautious about drawing conclusions.

“Everyone knows that the times are insignificant at the moment,” he insisted.

Of the other main contenders, McLaren’s 2011 car breaks cover for the first time only on Friday, while there have been concerns about the early speed of Mercedes’ new W02.

“What we have on the car now is a long way from what we are eventually going to have,” warned Nico Rosberg.  “Right now, I’m not worried.”

And with moving wings, scarce allocations of tyres at the test, KERS and big fuel tanks all in the mix, his Mercedes teammate Michael Schumacher is also not panicking.

“There are so many things to take into account that I don’t care about the times,” said the German.

“Some teams could be close already to what they are going to have at the first race, while for others it is different,” Schumacher is quoted by L’Equipe.

“We will have a clearer picture of the situation in Bahrain for the final test,” he insisted.

Team boss Ross Brawn agrees: “It’s too early to judge, but there is nothing wrong with this car,” he is quoted by autohebdo.fr.

His counterpart at Ferrari, technical director Aldo Costa, also said the pecking order after just three days of testing is unclear.

“I’m not saying we’re stumbling around in the dark, but almost,” he told reporters on Thursday.