Fernando Alonso said he was pleased to return to the front row of the grid for the first time since last season's Singapore Grand Prix after qualifying second quickest for the Canadian GP.

The Spaniard emerged as the closest challenger to Sebastian Vettel during the session but fell two-tenths of a second shy of beating the defending champion to top spot.

Having gone ten races without a front row start, Alonso said he was still pleased to qualify in P2 although he admitted that the nature of the Montreal circuit had gone some way to masking the problems Ferrari still faces with its car.

"It's been a long time - since Singapore 2010 in fact - that I was last on the front row and I am pleased that Felipe is also right up close to me on the starting grid," he said, referring to the fact that team-mate Felipe Massa will start from third. "It means the whole team has worked well, at the track and back home on trying to improve our car performance. It was important to show we can be competitive and we managed it. In Q3, we had some doubts about strategy - whether it would be better to do just a single lap at the start and then three or split the runs equally - but it's hard to say which would really have been the best choice.

"Clearly, on a track like this, where aerodynamic downforce is not as important as elsewhere, our deficiencies are a bit masked but it's equally true that the updates we brought here worked as we had expected and that's important for the rest of the championship, because we want to be fighting for the top places. It could rain tomorrow, which would make the race even more chaotic than usual: we must be ready to make the most of any opportunity.

"We will try to put the Red Bulls under pressure, right from the start, but we know McLaren will also be very strong, especially as their rear wing is possibly better adapted to the conditions in the case of a wet track."

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