"What can I say, other than get angry about being unlucky?" reflected a frustrated Fernando Alonso, after waved yellow flags late in the final part of qualifying for the 2012 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka cost him a likely second row starting grid position.

"The yellow flags came at the worst possible moment, when I was coming into turn 14," he explained. "Up until then, my lap was great and there was every chance of setting the fourth fastest time of the day, which would have then seen me start from third on the grid," after Jenson Button's gearbox penalty was applied.

"From there, the race could have taken on a completely different picture, but we have to accept what happened. We were unlucky today, so maybe we'll be lucky tomorrow," he added.

Instead, Alonso had to back off and finished in seventh place in the timings, although Button's five-place grid penalty for gearbox switch will at least bump him up to the third row of the starting grid in sixth position. It's still too far off the all-Red Bull front row for Alonso's comfort, however.

"We are up against some very strong opponents, like Red Bull who are in front and there is also McLaren who are behind, so we will have to keep an eye on both sides of the track," said the current leader of the 2012 drivers championship. "I'm expecting a difficult Sunday: the main aim will be to finish - reliability is crucial- and bring home a good points haul."

Regardless of the yellow flag, Alonso admitted that he'd had no chance of breaking the Red Bull grip on the front row.

"What can we do? I think they are quick, they deserve to be on the first row and they are very competitive. So it's up to us to improve," he said.

Recalling the huge advantage that Red Bull had enjoyed over their rivals during the 2010 season, Alonso added: "Let's say we are used to this situation, being one second slower than our competitors in the fight for the championship, so we will try to keep ahead."

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali agreed that they "definitely couldn't say the Gods were smiling on us today" in terms of luck, but insisted that neither Alonso's seventh place nor Felipa Massa's 11th place in the qualifying times reflected the team's potential at Suzuka.

"It's all part of the game, but that doesn't lessen the disappointment, at least in the heat of the moment," he said.

Massa had been looking on promising form in the first runs during qualifying - consistently posting faster times than his team mate - only to suddenly falter and fail to make it into the final top ten shootout.

"Up until the second run in Q2, everything was going well: the car felt very quick and I was happy with its balance," he said. "But suddenly, once we fitted a new set of Softs, I lost grip at the front, right from the first corner and it never returned throughout the lap," meaning that he missed out on Q3 by a cruel 0.021s margin.

The team's technical director Pat Fry shared the driver's frustration. "Felipe was fast all day, but at the moment when he should have made the most of his second set of Soft tyres he was unable to exploit all their potential," he said. "We now need to understand why this set of tyres did not live up to expectations.

"It's been one of those days where it seems everything that can go wrong does go wrong," added Fry. "Putting this disappointment behind us, now we are concentrating on race preparation - always keeping in mind that the points are only given out tomorrow afternoon!"

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