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Korean Grand Prix: Alonso startled by lack of race pace

Fernando Alonso admitted that for this first time in 2013, he'd been disappointed by his inability to make up for poor qualifying by being on the pace in the race.
It's long been acknowledged by Ferrari and by lead driver Fernando Alonso that their qualifying performances have been their Achilles Heel in the last two seasons. However, that's been balanced by strong race pace that has allowed them to fight their way back up the running order on Sunday.

But not this Sunday, it seemed, with Alonso admitting that for the first time the Ferrari had been found wanting on race day, meaning that he finished one place down on his starting grid position by the chequered flag.

"It wasn't a surprise to be off the pace in qualifying, as that's been the case since the start of the season," he said. "But the fact that we didn't have the pace in the race was one.

"Unfortunately at the start I couldn't keep the Sauber behind me and that meant I had a particularly stressful race in terms of the tyres," he explained.

Alonso was lucky not to get taken out by contact with his own team mate Felipe Massa, who was spun while going into the hairpin on turn 1. Even though it put him at the back of the field, it proved a lucky escape compared with what might have been for Massa, when the car emerged unscathed.

"I found myself in the middle of a group, all of us fighting and I decided to go down the inside to try and brake later," he recalled. "Unfortunately, some of the cars were slower and in order to avoid driving into one of the Mercedes, I was forced to move over to the right, ending up in a spin.

"Luckily, the car was alright, but at that point I was contemplating a race from the back of the pack. Thanks to a few nice passing moves I still managed to bring home some points, which was a good thing compared to how it looked after the start," he added after finishing in ninth place between the McLarens of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez.

The lap 1 incident hadn't ruffled Alonso: "What happened to Felipe at the third corner was not a problem for me: there were a lot of us there at that point and someone must have touched him. I tried to avoid him and continued without it affecting my race."

Alonso was unable to get past Hulkenberg because of the impressive traction displayed by the Sauber in Yeongam, and then spend the latter half of the race locked in a tense battle for position with Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes. But it was the huge gap in performance terms opened up by race winner Sebastian Vettel and the Red Bull team at the front that was really concerning the Spaniard.

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06.10.2013-  Fernando Alonso (ESP) Scuderia Ferrari F138
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October 06, 2013 7:32 PM

Is a rarity watching Alonso going backwards in a race, at the last couple of years. Usually he doesn't qualify well but somehow he manages to get on the podium. In this race the conditions were right to him again, with Webber's penalty and puncture, with the failure of the front wing on Rosberg's car and with Hamilton's tyre wear problems. A podium was wide open but unusually Ferrari had a chronic lack of race pace. He was very surprised that Webber overtook him at turn six. Only a Red Bull driver can do that, which is another proof of the fantastic job that Adrian Newey and co have done this year.

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