Fernando Alonso was able to bounce back from gearbox problems in the opening practice session of the weekend to end up fifth fastest on the first day of running for the Indian Grand Prix.

The Ferrari man was limited to just six laps in FP1 before the team elected to change a number of components in the gearbox in time for FP1.

The Spaniard recovered to set the fifth best time of the day and admitted afterwards that the problem encountered wasn't as costly as it could have been.

"It was a Friday like any other, apart from a mechanical problem this morning which reduced my track time," he said. "Fortunately, this did not affect the programme too much, with a first session given over mainly to getting used to this track again. It's always important to get the right feeling for a circuit, and especially to try the tyres, that are very important here.

"We also got a first idea of our race pace and also the rate of tyre degradation: we must take into account that track conditions on Sunday will be very different to today's. The situation is not that different to recent races. We are a bit behind in performance terms and tomorrow we must try and get a good starting position to get away well in the race and make it to the podium."

Team-mate Felipe Massa was two places further back in seventh and the Brazilian said he was braced for a tight battle with Mercedes and Lotus through the remainder of the weekend, with Red Bull having emerged ahead of the pack as the team to beat once again.

"A positive day today, with the car working well and I hope that on Sunday things will end up even better, because I like this track a lot," he said. "On my first lap with the Softs, I didn't manage to set a good time because of the traffic, but I am quite pleased with the race simulation I did in the afternoon, because on the Medium tyres, I managed to do a lot of laps and that's a very interesting point in terms of the race.

"Degradation is not that high here and so I don't think we will see a lot of pit stops, even if we will have to be careful with the Soft tyres in the first stint because of blistering. The team to beat is still Red Bull, but we have to see how the other cars will perform, especially in qualifying, because Mercedes and Lotus are very quick. As usual, we will have to push to the maximum."