"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.