Fernando Alonso has urged Ferrari to set realistic goals for the Chinese Grand Prix after qualifying in fifth place.

The Ferrari looked strong in dry conditions throughout practice, and with Alonso starting from the third row he is well placed to try to challenge the Red Bull's ahead. While Alonso concedes Mercedes is likely to be too quick in dry conditions, he says the main focus has to be on improving upon the last result from the Bahrain Grand Prix rather than thinking of the podium.

"We need to be realistic and don't dream too much," Alonso said. "We were ninth and tenth 15 days ago and we can't go to the race thinking that the podium is the only target we can be happy with. We need to do it step-by-step; we are starting in a good position in fifth.

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"We need to avoid some of the battles we had in the last races in the first couple of laps which meant we lost the train of the leaders a little bit too much. Hopefully we can have a good and a clean first lap and then try to follow them.

"We expect Mercedes to be very strong in dry conditions so if we can have a good pace in the race and be close to Red Bull and even fight with them that would be good news, but as I said we need to think that 15 days ago we were ninth and tenth, one minute behind the leaders. Tomorrow we need to avoid that distance and we need to have a better position, and let's try to do so."

With Ferrari appearing to lose any single lap advantage over Red Bull as a result of the wet weather on Saturday, Alonso said he didn't feel there was the potential to qualify any higher regardless of the conditions.

"I don't think that it changes too much to be honest. I'm fifth today in the wet, I don't think if today was dry I could be fourth, third, second or first. Fifth is an extremely good result in the wet and it was also a dream result in the dry.

"It's true that in some parts of the qualifying we were more competitive and in some less, but this happens year after year. Some cars seem to perform a little bit better in dry and some others in the wet; we've seen it with Williams happening sometimes this year."