Posted: Thu January 17, 2013 2:51PM; Updated: Thu January 17, 2013 2:51PM

Fernando Alonso says Ferrari will be competitive from the start

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Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso lost the 20120 Formule One championship on the final day to Sebastian Vettel by three points.
Clive Mason/Getty Images

MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, Italy (AP) -- Fernando Alonso is confident Ferrari will fight for the Formula One world title right from the start this season.

He picks Lewis Hamilton as the man to beat, rather than triple champion Sebastian Vettel.

Alonso lost out on the title in the final race of last season, finishing just three points behind Vettel as Ferrari's poor start to 2012 proved costly.

Ferrari struggled in the opening rounds, with its new car proving uncompetitive - apart from Alonso's win in the second race in Malaysia.

Speaking at Ferrari's annual winter retreat in the Italian Dolomites on Thursday, Alonso says "it is maybe impossible to be worse than last year, so I am confident."

Alonso says Vettel "deserved to win three titles in a row" but adds "Hamilton remains my strongest rival."

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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