Fernando Alonso insisted that the lap that carried him to fourth on the grid for the Spanish Grand Prix was so good that he would struggle to repeat it.
Alonso and Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa had been on the back foot in the final practice session after the FIA deemed that the new rear wing fitted to the 150º Italia during Friday running was outside the regulations.
Switching back to the part used in Turkey, both drivers struggled on Saturday morning but Alonso was then able to split McLaren pair Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button to take fourth on the grid – marking the first time this season that the Spaniard won't start the race from fifth place.
“I did a perfect lap: I reckon that if I tried to repeat it twenty times, I could not do better!” he said. “When you do a lap like that it's hard to put into words what one feels: always being on the limit, in every corner is a really special feeling for a driver. I am very happy with this result, because we have never made it to the second row this year. Sure, pole position is still a long way off: today, Red Bull was once again out of reach and we must work hard to try and get closer.
“In general, we have made a step forward in performance terms, thanks to the updates we have brought here. So far, in the races we have gone better than in qualifying and so I think we can be in the fight for the podium. It will be tough at the start because the McLarens always get off the line well and then they have one more new set of soft tyres than we do.”
While Alonso was happy with his performance in qualifying, there was disappointment on the other side of the Ferrari garage with Felipe Massa qualifying eighth fastest.
“This was definitely not the qualifying performance we were expecting, but all weekend long we have struggled with the balance of the car: we would have needed to be perfect to start a bit further up the order and that was not the case,” he said. “Let's hope that, on full tanks, the car works better and then we can see if we can get a good result.
“On a track like this it will not be easy to manage the tyres in the best way nor to find the best possible strategy. In Q2 we decided to stay in the garage, running the risk of not getting any further, because it would not have made much sense making the cut and then finding ourselves in Q3 without any new tyres: the outcome proved us right, even if we had hoped to make a better job of that opportunity. It is clear we suffer more than the others on the hard tyres.
“Overtaking? We will definitely see more than in the past at a circuit like this and that will mainly be down to tyre degradation.”