Ferrari number one driver Fernando Alonso reckons the Scuderia have made a 'small step forward' based on the team's form today in qualifying for the F1 2011 Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park.
Although Alonso was only fifth quickest in Q3 again - like he was in China, Malaysia and Australia, the Spaniard felt overall that the pace of the car was better than it had been at those opening three flyaway events.
“Fifth place is not the sort of result one can be pleased about, but today I am happy because I felt the car was more competitive than it has been in the first three qualifying sessions of the season,” Alonso explained.
“Getting into Q2 without using the soft tyres is significant. We have made a small step forward in terms of performance: it's not yet enough and we quickly need to make a bigger one, but it's definitely a confidence boost for the whole team, who are working in the right direction.
“I would say that this the first sign of light at the end of the tunnel in this early part of the season. Fifth place also means I avoid the dirty side of the track, which is usually a big handicap here.
“It's hard to say what will be the best strategy for tomorrow, because we don't know how the tyres will behave: we will have to be ready for any eventuality and be very flexible.”
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali meanwhile echoed those thoughts and concurred that things finally seem to be on the up.
“Clearly this is not the sort of result we were looking for, but it is equally evident that all the work undertaken in these last few weeks is beginning to deliver some signs of progress,” he added. “It's not yet enough, we are well aware of that, but we are moving in the right direction.
“Now though we must concentrate on tomorrow's race, which will be very long and tough, both for the cars and for the tyres. The number one priority, as always in fact, will be reliability.
“As for the strategy, we have seen in this early part of the season that there is a great degree of unpredictability about it, so we will have to keep our eyes wide open and a cool head, ready to pounce on any and every opportunity,” Domenicali summed-up.