In a qualifying session that was full of shocks in terms of pole position and who didn't make it through to the top ten, Ferrari's afternoon at Spa was a decidedly quiet, average day at the office.

"This afternoon's sixth place matches our average for this year's qualifying sessions," said Alonso, who took consolation from the fact that his closest rivals for the championship ended up behind him on the grid, with Hamilton starting two places back and both Red Bulls qualifying outside the top ten.

"If this result could be repeated tomorrow, honestly I'd sign for it now," he said. "A lot of my closest rivals start behind me, while another one, Kimi is not too far in front ... The championship is very close and if you don't do everything perfectly, you find yourself down the back.

"It is a very open race, partly because overtaking is relatively straightforward on this track," he added. "Our aim is the podium, but I think a win is not within our grasp."

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali admitted that Saturday's qualifying sessions "threw up a lot of surprises and a decidedly unusual grid," and said that there was every chance for Fernando Alonso to work his way up from fifth place on the grid, where Alonso will start after Pastor Maldonado's penalty for impeding Nico Hulkenberg during qualifying is factored in.

"Fernando has a good basis on which to build an equally good race tomorrow afternoon," he said. "There is no better track than this one to turn the hierarchy established on Saturday on its head, therefore it's really impossible to make any predictions."

But as for Felipe Massa, who will start form 14th place, even Domenicali had to admit: "Sunday will be tougher for Felipe, who starts from the seventh row, but definitely not all is lost for him and a place within the top ten is within his reach," he said, pointing out: "They would be important points in terms of the Constructors' championship."

"I definitely can't be happy," said Massa of his Saturday showing, saying that his problems had started in Free Practice 3 which had been the first chance the teams had been able to get some dry-running after the Friday drenching.

"I was struggling a lot in the second sector," he said. "After the third free practice session, we made some changes to the configuration of the car, which unfortunately, did not change the situation much. I can't manage to drive properly in that part of the track. I can feel the car sliding in the corners because of a lack of aerodynamic downforce.

"Fernando also seemed to be suffering in some parts of the track, but clearly less so than me," he added. "In the first and third sectors however, I was competitive, both in absolute terms and when compared to my team-mate."

Massa was one of a number of drivers to express concern about tyre degradation and blistering now that the track had dried up and the temperatures were higher. "I was a bit bothered about tyre degradation, especially as we had not managed to acquire date on their behaviour over a long run because of yesterday's bad weather," he said.

"But now the important thing is to concentrate on the race," insisted the Brazilian driver. "Everything could still happen, especially on a track where overtaking is possible. On top of that, there are so many unknowns relating to the behaviour of the car so we cannot rule out any surprises."

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