Fernando Alonso insists that he will not be looking to turn eighth on the grid at the Japanese Grand Prix into a result that prolong his F1 title agony to India in two weeks 'time.

The Spaniard trails Sebastian Vettel by 77 points with five races remaining in 2013, and had to watch as the German put his Red Bull on the front row at Suzuka while Ferrari put its two cars in the 'wrong order' on rows three and four.

Alonso remained sanguine about being three-tenths of a second slower than team-mate Felipe Massa on an afternoon that didn't deliver any real surprises, but railed against one member of the media who dared to suggest that finishing where he starts would at least take the championship battle to the Buddh International circuit later in the month.

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"The aim is definitely not just to finish in the first eight to keep the championship alive because, if Vettel doesn't win here, he will do it in one of the next few races, when the number of combinations that can affect the result will be less," the Spaniard reasoned, "Now we need to pick up points for second place in the constructors' championship and, for that, we need to finish ahead of Mercedes, who are only one point behind us."

Despite finishing behind both Massa and Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg in the final qualifying session, Alonso insisted that he was not surprised by the way the afternoon worked out.

"Today's result is more or less what we were expecting, not having had a great pace all weekend, always being between sixth and tenth," he pointed out, "Even in Q3, I could not do more.

"However, the long run tests here went better in terms of degradation than in Korea and that gives us hope that we can make up ground in the race. Tomorrow, we will give it our best shot, as always, trying to count on our strong points - the start, the strategy and the way we manage tyre degradation."

With Massa fifth on the grid, both Ferrari drivers are well placed for a good points haul from Japan, as they attempt to extend the Scuderia's advantage over Mercedes, which was closed to a single point in Korea last week. Although Lewis Hamilton sits third on the grid, with team-mate Nico Rosberg between the two Ferraris, Massa joined Alonso in looking for improved raceday performance.

"Managing to put together a perfect lap on this incredible track is always extremely satisfying and it reminded me of my pole here in 2006," he reflected, "Even if it's a fifth place, it's still a good starting point for tomorrow. Already, yesterday, I could feel the car was well balanced and, today, we did a good job, managing to get all the potential out of it.

"More than this was not possible, but I am very happy all the same. Sure, tomorrow's race will not be easy, because we have some very fast cars ahead of us, but we can be in the game and, for that, we must concentrate to the maximum on strategy and tyre management. Getting a good result will depend very much on having a strong pace, but, last year, I finished second here and, this evening, I will try and remember how I did it!"

Technical chief Pat Fry echoed the drivers' claims that the F138 had been improved through the course of the opening couple of days, even if their qualifying positions had not differed to much to recent races.

"The performance of the car improved since yesterday, partly because of the work we did to adjust the handling, partly because of the track conditions and the wind, which was particularly strong in the first sector," the Briton confirmed, "The positions more or less reflect our expectations, even if the gap to the leaders is smaller - which is an encouraging sign for us.

"It was a really very closely contested qualifying [but], unfortunately, we continue to suffer from a lack of aerodynamic downforce and so we struggle to fight for the top places. Today, we did a lot of work to find the right car configuration and both drivers gave their best. It's never simple tackling a race starting from these positions but, at Suzuka, as we know, anything can happen.

"We must concentrate on preparing for the race and ensure we are ready to make the most of any opportunity, [while] trying not to make any mistakes. Our pace on a long run, as seen yesterday, means we can be confident about tomorrow, even if we will have to take into account the variables, such as the weather and track conditions, which as we have seen today, partially affected the performance of all the cars."