Fernando Alonso says he "was completely at the limit" during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix.

Alonso will start from seventh on the grid behind both Mercedes, Williams and McLaren cars, and alongside Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull. Having looked strong all weekend, Alonso said a fourth row starting slot was not a surprise and pointed to his consistency as proof that there was no more to come from the car.

"It was a nice session for me," Alonso said. "It's difficult after the free practice, we always get some optimism because we always seem to be a little bit more competitive. Probably we run different fuel loads compared to our opponents, but in qualifying we know that they turn up the engine probably and they are a little bit quicker than us normally.

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"We expected a tough qualifying and it was a tough qualifying. I was completely at the limit today. I had two runs in Q2 and two runs in Q3 and I did four identical lap times. So I could put on 100 sets of tyres and I would do identical timed laps. So it's absolutely the maximum and it's positive for me as I said because I see two Mercedes, two Williams, two McLarens, one Ferrari, two Red Bulls, so personally I think I struck the maximum. The important thing tomorrow is to do a good race"

Alonso said it would be important to try and jump the McLarens at the start but says Ferrari has to ensure it delivers some form of result in its home race.

"The first metres of the race are important always because then you are in different groups for the race. You can have an easier race or a more difficult race; it depends how the first lap goes. But we cannot be crazy about the first corner, try to be too aggressive and have a problem. We need the points, we need to help the team, we need to give some satisfaction to our Tifosi as well.

"Today we could not fight for pole position unfortunately and tomorrow they will expect the maximum from us. That maximum is to have the perfect race and we have to balance this attacking race with finishing the race with good points to help the team. That is what they expect from us. The best for tomorrow we will see; it seems Mercedes and Williams are a little bit too fast - at least today - and then there is a group of McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull quite close together. Hopefully we can lead that group."