Fernando Alonso characterised his seventh place on the grid for Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix as no surprise and very much to be expected, and that it meant he would simply have to work his way forward in the race itself - as he's done on several occasions already in 2013.

"Today's result isn't surprising because from the start of the season, on average, we have always started from between sixth and eighth place," he said. "Then made up ground in the race, which we will try and do again tomorrow."

Ferrari's qualifying form had appeared to perk up on the low-drag circuits at Spa and Monza, but now they were back on a high-grip circuit like Singapore it was back to business as normal.

"On a high-downforce circuit we were fourth fastest in terms of teams in Hungary and we come here and we are still fourth fastest," Alonso said. "It's sad news for us but there is nothing we can do now apart from preparing for a perfect race tomorrow."

Alonso said that despite outside appearances, the team had continued to make progress with further upgrades to the car this weekend.

"The updates brought to this race have gained us a tenth of a second on our competitors, a result which matches our expectations," he said. "Even if the gap to the leader is still significant and the improvement might not be that evident, we cannot say our engineers have not put in the effort, because everyone has done a super job.

"They have worked 24 hours non-stop, and while it's true that we are not in the position we want in terms of performance it's not because they didn't try the maximum," he stressed. "They work day and night to bring new parts to the races and here we brought a new front wing that gave us one tenth, which was the expected time gain."

Alonso said that he wasn't surprised to see Vettel in such dominant form in Singapore this weekend, pointing out that this had already been a strong event for the young German.

"He was on pole position in 2008 in Singapore and he is always fast," Alonso pointed out. "I think he was struggling with confidence a little bit in practice and he was getting better and better and then by Q2 he was very competitive and in Q3 he beat me by four milliseconds, which can go one way or the other."

Alonso then turned his attention to Sunday's race and what he and Ferrari could achieve on the night.

"Expectations for tomorrow are still high," he said, while admitting that the other teams were making equal improvements in their own race race. "We must be realistic and try to make the most of any errors they might make. I think the podium can be within our grasp tomorrow, if we have a perfect race and make the best choices in terms of strategy, tyres and the right number of stops.

"Here in Singapore, in five years there has always been a safety car and for that reason, here more than anywhere else, luck can make the difference," he added. "I'm happy also to be on the clean side of the grid - it's not a big advantage, but maybe it's equal to being eight metres in front and it's always better to avoid the marbles into Turn 1."

That gives him a decent shot of getting the jump on the man in sixth place on the grid - which is ironically his own team mate, Felipe Massa.

"Having struggled so much yesterday and in the third free practice session, today in qualifying, we finally managed to put together a good lap, completely changing the set-up on the car," said Massa of his own qualifying effort, while admitting that they were still a disconcerting margin off the leaders in terms of time differentials.

"I am expecting a difficult race because anything can happen here and tyre degradation is particularly high, even if I hope we have a good race pace and can be competitive," he continued.

Massa now knows that he's leaving Maranello at the end of the season, but the Brazilian insisted that he would still do his best to finish at Ferrari with a flourish.

"We will do our utmost to improve our position in the championship," he said. "My effort over the next seven races will be the maximum, because I would like to end my time with Ferrari in the best way possible."