Fernando Alonso has admitted he was 'a bit surprised' to be so close to the front row today in qualifying for Sunday's inaugural Indian Grand Prix.

Alonso finished the top-ten shootout fourth on the timesheets in his Ferrari 150? Italia, his best lap a 1 minute 24.519 seconds, which left him only 0.011 seconds off Mark Webber in third and just 0.045 seconds off Lewis Hamilton in second. However with Hamilton set to drop three places, after picking up a penalty on Friday for a yellow flag infringement, the Spaniard will actually start in third, just behind pole man, Sebastian Vettel.

"It was important to get onto the front two rows, as it's easier to fight for a good result from here," Alonso said. "I am very close to the front row, which is a bit of a surprise. In recent qualifying sessions, we have not managed to get as close as this to our main rivals and already yesterday we looked reasonably competitive.

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"I don't think there's much of a difference between the two vertical lines of the grid because the ideal line on the start-finish straight goes down the middle, so both sides are quite dirty. In fact the dirt off the racing line could be a problem for overtaking with whoever initiates the move having to give it everything without hesitating.

"So far, this weekend has gone as expected and now we will try and do a good job tomorrow.

"It would be very nice to bring home one of the trophies that will be handed out to those who make it to the podium on F1's debut in India."

Asked if he could get on the top step of the podium, Alonso played down expectations.

"Usually, on Sunday our performance level is better but that does not automatically mean that we will be fighting for the win," he warned. "There are too many unknowns, even more than usual and then, we have seen how things can change from one track to another.

"In Suzuka, we came within a whisker of the win and in Singapore we were not competitive.

"We will be doing our best, that's for sure."