- Fernando Alonso confident that Ferrari can return to winning ways in 2012
- Spanish driver and teammate Felipe Massa finished fourth and sixth this year
- Alonso says the design of the team's new race car will be less conservative
Fernando Alonso ended his 2011 Formula One commitments wearing a Santa Claus outfit and the robes of a Magi, and the Spanish driver hopes next year will bring a return of the old Ferrari spirit.
The legendary Italian marque has won 31 world titles overall, but none since clinching a 16th constructors' crown in 2008.
Alonso was fourth in the drivers' standings this year, 135 points behind Red Bull's all-conquering Sebastian Vettel after winning just one race, while teammate Felipe Massa was a massive 274 points off the pace in sixth.
After being Father Christmas for Ferrari employees at the team's Maranello headquarters, and then one of the Three Wise Men at a sponsors' party, Alonso turned his attentions towards his bid to add a third world title to his 2005 and 2006 successes at Renault.
"This is the time when one is always optimistic, but then we must wait for the start of the season to see where we really are. It's true that in the past few days, there was a good feeling at Maranello and there's an air of confidence about it," the 30-year-old told Ferrari's website.
"We want to reacquaint ourselves with the taste of winning that has eluded us for a while. Last spring, we made important changes to the structure of the technical part of the team and now we have adopted a new approach, a less conservative one, in the design of the new car.
"The philosophy behind the 2012 car is very different to that of 2011, especially in some key areas like suspension and aerodynamics."
Alonso, who joined Ferrari in 2010, is now looking forward to unwinding before testing begins again in Jerez in February ahead of the opening race in Australia on March 18.
"Now's the time to take it easy for a few weeks, time to recharge the batteries and be 100% ready for next season, which I expect will be much more of an equal fight than the one just gone," he said.
"Red Bull will still be very strong, but I think they will have less room for improvement than us, as we were so far behind this year."