Ferrari's Fernando Alonso has admitted he was surprised after finishing so close to Sebastian Vettel in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Alonso will line-up in fifth place on the grid for the sixth round in the 2014 F1 World Championship, his best lap in Q3 a 1 minute 16.686 seconds, which was just 0.139 seconds off Vettel, although the German did have an ERS issue.

"The car has felt better and better during the weekend," Alonso told reporters after qualifying, including Crash.net. "We made some important changes. Normally during a weekend we don't change so much the set-up. But here we suffered a little bit with understeer and we had some braking problems. We worked a lot on that and the car felt better and better."

Related Articles

"Obviously in FP3 I took it easy. I had this feeling something would happen like in 2010 when I missed the qualifying because of an accident in final practice. I took it quite easy in Q1 and then in Q2 I started to up the pace and push a little bit harder. Then in Q3 I think I did the maximum," he added. "The two laps [in the top-ten shootout] were good and I am very happy with them and the balance of the car. In fact we are one or two tenths from Vettel. That is a good surprise.

"Fifth on the grid is more or less the position I have had all weekend. Usually in qualifying, for whatever reason, Williams or Force India or whatever they start to bring all the potential and we then struggle a little bit to maintain this position, but today that was not the case. We could secure fifth and that is good, especially here where overtaking is very difficult. It is good to start up at the front."

Asked how the Scuderia will do on Sunday and if they will be a bit closer to the Red Bulls and Mercedes cars ahead in race conditions, he added: "I think we will be closer. I remember last year the pace of the Mercedes and they were holding up everyone creating a big train of cars. I think tomorrow with the advantage they have I am sure they will not push too much.

"But while they can be at 50 per cent for most of the laps, we will be at 110 per cent for all of the laps and that will make the train a little bit closer and we could be around there. After the start and the laps around the pit stops it is difficult to overtake and so we just need to be very focussed [to do as well as we can].

"We have some forecasts of rain and if that happens, the race will probably change a lot and anything can happen. We did a couple of laps in FP2 [on Thursday] in wet conditions and it felt really, really slippery - more than any other year here. In case of rain tomorrow the race will be quite difficult and easy to make mistakes."

Meanwhile, Alonso said he doesn't think Ferrari is in a position to be able to capitalise on the fight between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

"I think we are a little bit too far [behind] in the championship battle with them. We would like to be a little bit closer and challenging them for victories and a little bit closer in the points. I think for us they are so much in front that we can only see this battle from the back, from afar," Alonso stated.

"It [any tension between Rosberg and Hamilton] is not making any difference to us at the moment, unfortunately. Although if we get in a position to fight for victories and the championship that will be interesting if they are struggling a little bit with the relationship.

"But I think it [any tension] is normal in all sports, especially in Formula 1, with the media attention, there is a lot of pressure and a lot of things going on. Inside the team you need to beat your team-mate to get good respect and if you put a championship battle in that garage [as well], things then become even more tense. I hope they both have a good and clean championship and whoever wins is hopefully the best of the two and the one that deserves it more."