Ferrari number one driver Fernando Alonso was encouraged following his form in practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Friday and he added that he could probably have been on the 'front row' had he found a better balance with the medium tyres.

Alonso was fourth quickest in both the morning and afternoon sessions and in the end the Spaniard finished up fifth overall on the combined times, his best lap a 1 minute 36.985 seconds, which left him 0.416 seconds off the top time set by Kimi Raikkonen and 0.324 seconds off team-mate, Felipe Massa, who was third.

"Today, the car worked well in all conditions and that is very good news for us," Alonso stated. "This circuit is more representative than Australia for evaluating the car's performance and so it was important to understand here today if the positive feelings from the winter were not just an illusion.

"On my lap on the Medium tyres, I did not have the right balance, otherwise I could have managed to improve, as I did on the Hards and I could probably have been on the "front row." Now we must see how tomorrow goes, when it could rain at any moment and on a track where tyre degradation is much higher than in Melbourne.

"With a high number of pit stops likely, a car that works better in the race than in qualifying could be an advantage. However, tomorrow we will try and do our best to get a place on the front row, because, as usual, the start, strategy and pit stops will hold the key".

Massa meanwhile was also pretty bullish about the Scuderia's start to the second round in the 2013 F1 World Championship: "Overall, it was a good day, even if the rain that arrived for the end of the second session cost us some valuable time, when it came to comparing the two compounds over a long run," he added.

"The car responded well in both sessions and, as for the tyres Pirelli brought here, I felt much more comfortable on the Mediums that we'd already used in Australia.

"We now have a long evening to work on understanding what the real behaviour of the tyres is, because that is definitely what can make the difference and could make us more competitive, as we prepare for both qualifying and the race".