Having said earlier this week that he expected no surprises from the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, Fernando Alonso has now admitted that Ferrari may struggle to make it into the final stage of qualifying in Shanghai.
Alonso tops the standings going into the weekend on the back of his shock victory at Sepang last time out, where he made the most of the mixed weather conditions to beat Sergio Perez to top spot.
The Spaniard has been quick to play down expectations about his chances this weekend and said that luck would have to play a part if he was to be near the front of the pack on race day.
“I think it's going to be a tough weekend for us again,” he said. “I don't expect any big surprises as we've been saying, the team and myself, all week. The car has some small improvements, nothing big for this race and I think it's the same, more or less, for all the other teams around us in the paddock. So I expect more or less the positions to maintain, or to keep the same as the first two races, which means a difficult to weekend for us. Struggling to be in Q3, I guess, in qualifying and then in the race to score as many points as possible as we did in the first races – trying to do a good strategy, a good management of the tyres and a little bit of luck. It's always a factor that we always seem to forget is there.
“I remember in Australia we had a great team effort from everybody there, a good strategy, pit stops etc, but we also had some luck to get the fifth result and in Malaysia we had the same. Starting from the first corner, we avoided any accident. It seems normal but every first corner is always a risk. We had Grosjean and Schumacher crashing in turn four in Malaysia, which we were very close to being in that accident as well. So, it's always... a race or a grand prix is not only pace, a good strategy or good driving skills. It's a big package and luck is a big factor. Hopefully the luck is still with us this weekend.”
Alonso again reiterated that there can be no 'quick fix' for Ferrari as it works to find more speed from the F2012, with small improvements set to be made throughout the season.
“Formula One these days doesn't have a magic button where we change something, we arrive in China, we arrive in Barcelona, in Canada and you change one part on the car and you improve by one second,” he said. “This will be constant work from the team, improving one tenth, two tenths, three tenths every step that we do and we need to do it quicker than the others because all the other teams will bring a couple tenths (advantage) to every race so we need to bring some more.”