Fernando Alonso says it was "quite a surprise" for Ferrari to be so competitive during qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix.

Having been quickest in two of the three practice sessions, Alonso was in the mix for pole position at the Marina Bay circuit but ultimately qualified fifth, just over 0.2s off Lewis Hamilton. Alonso conceded he wasn't expecting Ferrari to be in the fight but also warned that it didn't appear to be a result of any car developments.

"It was quite a surprise for us to be honest," Alonso said. "Two tenths from pole position is something that we could not imagine yesterday. In free practice we normally are competitive and then in quay usually we lose some ground but it didn't happen here, in qualy we were still competitive too so that was good news.

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"The reasons are not clear. Probably the track characteristics suit our car a little bit better, we know the power effect is quite low here. I felt confident in the car from lap one. From lap one in FP1 I was first and I stayed first in FP1, so it is a circuit that I feel normally confident at also.

"I think we did maybe one minor set-up change in the car so the car was quite good from the first lap which also helps the driver to keep doing laps with similar characteristics and similar performance. So a mix of things but on top of those it's just the power effect on this track probably helped us a little bit by being very low."

And Alonso said he would be targeting a podium finish in Sunday's race while not ruling out a chance of victory.

"I think we need to see how the race develops. There are so many important parts to the race; the start, being on the clean side hopefully we can have an advantage. The strategy, the tyre degradation - which we saw was quite big yesterday - so we need to keep the tyres alive as much as we can, and we'll see.

"I think the podium obviously is closer than ever because the level of competitiveness is quite good this weekend. We are competitive and we are starting in the top five so why not think about the podium, but victory I think is very optimistic. We will see, it's a circuit that is very demanding on the mechanical side as well so we'll see how many cars can finish the race, how many mechanical issues we could all face tomorrow. Brake temperatures ... there are many things at this circuit which you need to have under control, so we need to be there and we will see what the result is at the end."