Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali has hailed Fernando Alonso after the Spaniard managed to split the McLarens yesterday in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Alonso had only been ninth quickest in final practice, but bounced back to take fourth in the top-ten shootout, his best grid slot of F1 2011, after having to settle for fifth in all four previous events.

"This sport never stops throwing up surprises!" Domenicali reflected. "This morning we had the worst FP3 of the year, with both cars struggling a lot and then we find ourselves commenting on our best qualifying position. Certainly, this fourth place was down to an incredible performance from Fernando.

"He drove a simply stunning lap in Q3: it is further valediction, if one was ever needed, of why we have made the right choice in extending our relationship in the long term."

Pat Fry, Ferrari's deputy technical director and head of race track engineering, meanwhile was similarly impressed.

"A great lap from Fernando who managed to put everything together perfectly without even the slightest mistake," Fry added. "He was brilliant and this position is mainly down to him.

"We tried to manage tyre use in qualifying as well as possible, without taking risks at the start of Q1, before staying in the garage in Q2 so as to have the chance of a strong hand in Q3 with a new set of option tyres.

"We introduced a lot of new parts here, but the others have done the same and it seems the gaps have not changed that much: we have to do even better to catch up with the best.

"A track like this favours cars that have a lot of aerodynamic downforce: that can be seen very clearly by analysing the best times in each sector. Our car is competitive in the first one, but we pay a very heavy price in the other two. That's where we must improve.

"As for tomorrow's race, a lot will depend on tyre life and on finding the right moment to change tyres. It will be a busy time in the pits again and everyone will have to give it their best shot to be perfect and that includes the drivers," Fry summed-up.

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