Fernando Alonso reckons Ferrari will be in contention for a podium tomorrow in Abu Dhabi, although only if they do 'everything perfectly'.
Alonso will start the penultimate round in the F1 2011 World Championship from his usual fifth place and despite again being outpaced by both Red Bulls and both McLarens, he is hopeful they can make up some places in the race.
“We are more or less where we expected to be going into the session. It's not because this is the eighth time out of eighteen qualifying sessions that I have ended up fifth. It's that, all year long, with a few rare exceptions, McLaren and Red Bull are stronger than us on Saturday, while on Sunday the situation is usually different, with the gaps between us being much closer,” Alonso said ahead of the penultimate race of the F1 2011 season.
“We know we can fight for the podium, but to succeed, we will have to do everything perfectly, beginning with the start and our strategy.
“In Q3, I thought of doing just one run, but then the first one was not perfect and we preferred to try everything right to the end. I don't think it would have made such a difference having a new set of tyres tomorrow, also because the degradation does not seem that high. Maybe the best time could have come on the second or third flying lap, but going down that route would have compromised our strategy, as we would have to start on tyres that were more worn than those of our rivals.
“I will start from the clean side of the track and hope to make up some places: the first lap is a good window of opportunity.”
Team-mate Felipe Massa meanwhile will start just one place behind, despite having been almost seven tenths slower in the sister car.
“To be honest, I hoped for more from this qualifying. I struggled more than expected to get the best out of the tyres on the first flying lap: maybe it would have been worth trying a longer run, with two attempts,” pondered the Brazilian after Q3.
“As expected, today McLaren and Red Bull showed they have the edge over us. In the end, we are in the grid positions we can expect in this final part of the season. Sure, having to use the old type of front wing cost me something in terms of performance: in India, when we compared the two versions, I immediately felt the new one was an improvement, giving more grip and better stability under braking. Having said that, I don't think I could have got a place on the two front rows.
“Tomorrow we will have to see what we can do. Certainly the DRS will help with overtaking, but we have seen on other occasions, even with the moveable rear wing, that it is not a foregone conclusion.”