Fernando Alonso was 'very happy' after qualifying third for the Malaysian Grand Prix and now thinks he not only has a 'realistic chance of a podium' in Sunday's race, but can also 'even dream about winning'.

The Spaniard had to make do with fifth on the grid in Melbourne last weekend, and while he was again beaten by his team-mate, Felipe Massa today, who will line-up second in the sister car, he still maintained third was good.

Indeed it is his best grid position since he qualified on pole at the German Grand Prix last summer.

"I am very happy with this position as it's been too long since I qualified in the top three!" stated Ferrari's number one. "Something I have usually managed to achieve in the race has been missing for quite a while: maybe the rain helped us a bit as we were not the quickest in the dry, but starting in the top three gives us a realistic chance of a podium finish and we can even dream about winning.

"In Q3, when we had seen the track was drying quickly, we had a moment's hesitation, because in the dry, the intermediates only last one or two laps before beginning to degrade. But in the end, it seemed the most sensible choice and it worked out well.

"Of the past three years, this seems to be the moment when everything appears to be working for the best: performance, strategy, pit stops.

"Now we must see how tomorrow will turn out, because it's always a lottery if it rains. Even if, in the current F1, the start is not the most important thing, we will still try to make a good one in order to maintain position or even to try and get past [Sebastian] Vettel at the first corner.

"Then we will see: our race pace in Australia and the long run here on Friday means we can be reasonably optimistic."