Fernando Alonso was a 'little bit' encouraged following practice today for the F1 2011 Japanese Grand Prix.
Alonso enjoyed a strong start to the 15th round in the championship and having been fourth in FP1 this morning, he improved and was second best in FP2 - his quickest lap a 1 minute 32.075 seconds, which left him 0.174 seconds off the ultimate pace. Despite that though, he knows it still isn't going to be easy for Ferrari to take the fight to Red Bull and McLaren.
“This year we have seen all the teams go through so many highs and lows, with the exception of Red Bull, depending on which track we are at, so we should not be too surprised if today it seems that we have done better than in Singapore for example,” Alonso noted.
“And then, today is only Friday: it's happened before that the first day has been like this and then we have not managed to do any better than fifth in qualifying.
“In fact, I don't think that things are so different to what they were two weeks ago, especially as our cars are pretty much unchanged. We hope to be able to fight with McLaren and Red Bull, but we know it won't be easy.
“What we can say is that the feeling from today is a little bit more encouraging than in previous races.
“Also, we must bear in mind that the races have been much more open than in the past, when the final result did not differ that much from the grid positions: strategy, tyre degradation and DRS create much more uncertainty and spectacle. For example, I think that here we will see a lot more overtaking than in past years.”
Team-mate Felipe Massa meanwhile was also quite upbeat and he ended up fifth in FP2, his best a 1m 32.448s.
“Overall, it was a good day: compared to so many other Fridays this year, the first impressions are better,” Massa added. “The car behaved reasonably well, but it's also true we will not know where we are compared to the others until tomorrow afternoon.
“We worked a lot on defining the best set-up, learning important things for the rest of the weekend. Tyre degradation seems to be rather significant, which will make the race even more open in terms of strategy: finding the right set-up on the car won't be the easiest of jobs. Maybe we can fight for a podium finish and it's a realistic goal.
“Sure, I always want to be able to fight for the win: it's true that Red Bull has a significant advantage, but we must continue to believe in ourselves, because in the races, anything can happen.”