Fernando Alonso has conceded qualifying for the F1 2011 Brazilian Grand Prix was a bit of a 'struggle'.
Although the Spaniard again took fifth in his Ferrari, as he has on eight other occasions this season, he wasn't particularly pleased with his car. Indeed in the end he was surprised to only be just over a tenth off Lewis Hamilton in fourth, and almost half a second up on Nico Rosberg in sixth.
“My subscription to fifth place has been extended for one more Saturday!” he joked following the final top-ten shootout of the year. “This time however, getting to my classic starting place on the grid was a bit more of a struggle than usual. We are not very pleased with the balance of the car and we were expecting a very competitive Mercedes.
“However, in Q3, we got much closer to the McLarens than we could have expected, while the first of the Mercedes was left a few tenths back. What this means is that we managed to get a little bit more out of it than our potential would indicate. I certainly can't say the way qualifying went was much of a surprise.
“If it really rains tomorrow, it will be a very exciting and open race: no one really knows how competitive they can be in the wet and then it requires next to nothing - one lap more or less out on track at a time when the conditions change - to turn around a situation that looks set in stone.
“It's true that for us, the problem of getting the tyres up to temperature are more acute in the wet, but then it's equally true that when the track does dry, we are quicker than our rivals: the various stages of the race at Silverstone demonstrated this to be the case.
“If however, we were to race in the dry, then maybe there will be a lot of stops because today the tyres seemed to degrade more than yesterday. The perfect recipe for the last race of the year? The four in front of us stop and me and Felipe are ahead of the rest!”
Massa meanwhile will start in seventh in the sister car, having been pipped by Rosberg, who went 0.018 seconds quicker.
“I was expecting more from this final qualifying of the year and I definitely cannot be happy with this seventh place,” Massa added. “Unfortunately, we were unable to find the right balance throughout the weekend.
“In some corners I was locking up the front and in the slower ones I suffered with understeer, in others I lacked traction: all in all, the car was rather difficult to drive. On top of that, it was a rather complicated day. I had to use two sets of Softs in Q2 and I paid for that in Q3, as I could only do one run. Tomorrow it's supposed to rain so the situation could change..."