Fernando Alonso says Ferrari is definitely making progress after qualifying fourth for the Austrian Grand Prix.

The second-row grid slot matches Alonso's best of the season so far having previously qualified fourth in the wet session in Malaysia. While Alonso admits it is not an accurate reflection of Ferrari's place in the pecking order, he says the team should be proud of maximising the opportunities that arose in qualifying and feels the car is getting better.

"It definitely was not a normal qualifying so we probably took advantage of it," Alonso said. "It's not normal to see Hamilton behind us for example, so we need to be proud of the position. Definitely the new parts we brought to Canada and to here seem to work fine. In Canada we felt more potential in the car but for some reason the track or the layout was not good for us and we didn't have a good race, but the new parts were better than the old ones so that was a positive sign.

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"Here again we tested some others and they seem to also be positive so hopefully we are moving in the right direction. We know there is still a long way to go and the qualifying we need to be calm about the result because we were 1.1s behind the Mercedes this morning and in practice. Now we have one Mercedes a tenth ahead and one Mercedes behind, so I don't think everybody used their full potential because the conditions were a little bit tricky."

With Daniel Ricciardo directly behind, Alonso expects a lot of pressure from cars further back on the grid but believes a podium is not out of the question.

"Ricciardo I don't think will back up too many cars. In fact, they've been very competitive especially on Sundays so I expect Ricciardo and [Sebastian] Vettel - with all the new tyres that he has now - to have a strong race. So it's going to be difficult to keep fourth. I probably won't sign for anything now because in the last race we saw in the last couple of laps how things can change quickly.

"We will try to do our race. It's true that sometimes we start in 7th, 9th, 11th and try to recover, tomorrow we probably start out of position because fourth is not realistic as I said. So we will try to combine the two things: attack to get to the podium places and defend because we know there are fast cars behind who will arrive later in the race so we will need to be ready for that."