Fernando Alonso said anything remains possible in the United States Grand Prix despite a difficult qualifying session at the Circuit of the Americas.
Alonso struggled for pace throughout the session and could only post the ninth best time, although he will start eighth thanks to a grid penalty in place for the Lotus of Romain Grosjean.
By contrast however, the Spaniard's title rival Sebastian Vettel stormed to pole position as he seeks to wrap up a third successive title but Alonso said anything could still happen on race day as he seeks to keep his championship hopes alive.
"We never managed to put together the best lap, which on these tyres and with these track conditions is always the last one you do,” he said. “We knew it would be a complicated weekend but clearly today we were too slow and we will start from too far back. Having said that, the accounts are always done at the end of the race: also in Abu Dhabi we were slower than our main rivals and then we got back three points in the classification.
“Our aim remains unchanged and it's still possible: on Sunday all sorts of things can happen. Reliability, strategy - it will be important to work out when is the best time to pit because here, the cold tyres can be slower by several seconds – and team work will be as usual important.
“We will push to the limit, as we have done since the start of the year at every race weekend."
Team boss Stefano Domenicali said the team had to take responsibility for the tyre struggles Alonso had faced and he admitted that a difficult race day now lay ahead.
"A disappointing qualifying that puts us in a very difficult position in terms of the championship, given that our main rival will start from pole position,” he said. “The main problem was linked to tyre performance, but let's make it clear, the responsibility rests with us, because the tyres are the same for everyone and therefore it's down to us to try and get them to work as well as possible.
“We must analyse very carefully the way qualifying went, to understand what didn't work but above all, we must concentrate on preparing for the race. We have said it often, the sums are done on Sunday afternoon: clearly the outlook is not positive but we are well aware that the situation can be different in the race. There are no reference points for a new track therefore the unknown factors are greater than usual: we have a duty to tackle every aspect to perfection."