Ferrari number one driver Fernando Alonso has said he is 'optimistic' for the Bahrain Grand Prix after qualifying in third place.
The Spaniard topped the times in final practice this morning and was also quickest in the opening qualifying session.
However he had to settle for third in Q3, not that he was disappointed with a spot on the second row, especially given how Ferrari generally struggled last season on a Saturday afternoon.
“It's really good news that once again we managed to do well in qualifying, which is our Achilles Heel! This is now the third time this year that we end up in the top three and, even if usually Sunday goes better thanks to our race pace, I am really pleased to see our potential already maximized on Saturday,” Alonso stated.
“The data seen from Friday's long runs means we can be optimistic about a race in which our main adversaries are represented by [Sebastian] Vettel and the Red Bull in front and the Lotuses which might be behind us on the grid, but they will definitely be in the game.”
Alonso also added that he is pleased that Felipe Massa will start alongside him on the second row, although unlike the other top-ten runners, the Brazilian will actually start on the hard compound tyre.
“Because of the penalties for [Lewis] Hamilton and [Mark] Webber, Felipe will start from fourth: I think it's much better that I find myself alongside my team-mate's Ferrari than Lewis' Mercedes!” Alonso continued.
“We won't discover which is the best strategy until tomorrow now and it's impossible to make predictions. But I think the best tyre for the race will be the hard and that could work in our favour, given it's the one we have been most comfortable on all weekend,” he summed-up.
Massa meanwhile is also feeling bullish and was delighted to end up fourth on the grid - especially as he only set the sixth best time, and given he used what is theoretically the slower tyre.
“I am very pleased with the outcome of this qualifying, because in the end, the decision to take a risk in Q3, going in a different direction to the one we had originally planned, turned out to be the best one,” Massa said. “On the Medium compound, I didn't feel able to fight for the top places, the car had little grip and suffered a lot at the back. Even with the Hard tyres, the chances of ending up further down the order was extremely high, but I still opted to stay with the tyres I felt most comfortable on.
“The penalties for two of the drivers ahead of me – Webber and Hamilton – mean I now move up the grid to fourth place, a point from where I can race with the leaders.
"Starting on the Medium will definitely be an advantage, but to have a good race it will be vital to find the best strategy and ensure everything runs perfectly”.