Fernando Alonso said he was pleased to have put himself in contention for a podium finish after qualifying fourth for the European Grand Prix in Valencia.

After a solid performance in practice, the Spaniard was able to challenge for a place on the front two rows of the grid as he looks to take what would be only his third podium finish of the season.

With Ferrari continuing to make progress after a difficult start to the season, Alonso said he had hoped to be in the mix in his second home race of the campaign even if Red Bull remain the team to beat.

"I don't think this was a disappointing qualifying, because even if there were those outside the team who built up expectations, within it, we were well aware of the situation," he said. "The aim was to fight with the McLarens and we did just that. Maybe we had hoped to be ahead of both, but instead we find ourselves splitting the two drivers.

"On my second run in Q3, I was giving it my all to try and improve, but once I realised that my time was slower than on my previous one, I chose to pit and save that set of Options as much as possible. I reckon that tomorrow we could see different strategies in terms of pit stops. Our aim is to finish on the podium and we are in with a chance.

"I did not expect that the very slight change introduced to the rules would change the order of things and that was the case: Red Bull was and still is the favourite. We will see if at Silverstone, where there are more significant changes coming, something will happen, but we need to keep in mind that everyone or almost everyone will suffer a drop in performance."

Alonso added that he was happy with the progress being made by Ferrari as it attempts to bring itself back into contention for honours, even though he admitted there was still a lot of work to be done.

"The development work on the car is progressing well, but we are a long way behind in terms of aerodynamics, which to put a time value on it means two or three months," he said. "It will not be easy to catch up but we will do all we can to succeed."


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