• Australian GP - Ferrari

Ferrari's deficiencies starting to emerge - Alonso

ESPN Staff
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After qualifying fifth at the Australian Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso said he is starting to understand the areas in which his Ferrari is lacking compared to the pace-setting Mercedes.

The first competitive session of the season saw Lewis Hamilton take pole position ahead of the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo and Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg. McLaren's Kevin Magnussen was fourth with Alonso in fifth, although the wet conditions meant tyre choice and timing were keys to a quick lap.

However, Alonso said he is starting to pinpoint the areas in which Mercedes are quicker and is expecting Sunday's race to make the picture even clearer.

"We are some steps behind Mercedes in performance," he said. "One area is the braking, to make it a little bit more consistent when we change the configuration of the car from high fuel to low fuel and so on, or with more or less grip. We need to improve the speed of the car in general, the traction, the top speed - we are a little bit down here compared to others across the finish line and in the speed trap.

"There are some areas where we will finally see where the competitors are when we are racing, because in testing you never know what the others are doing. This weekend is giving us some data to compare and we will study it, but it looks like there is a little bit of everything we need to put together in the next couple of races."

However, Alonso believes a podium is within his grasp as long as there are not any major issues with the Ferrari in race specification.

"It [a podium] is possible yes, because we are starting fifth and we just need to make up two positions to get that goal. It's a little bit easier than if you start further behind, but you cannot take a finish in the race for granted, which we were probably doing in the last few years.

"This year in this first race we have to say the first priority is to finish the race. Maybe that's a bit pessimistic or maybe a little bit strange, but I'm sure all the drivers - even the guy in pole position - cannot be 100% that he will finish the race.

"Let's try to do everything positive from our side to take care of every detail on the car and make sure we cross that line. If we do so then I think the podium can arrive if we are competitive. If we are not competitive for whatever reason - we are too slow in the race or we struggle with the tyres or the fuel - then we will not be in the podium because three people will do better than us. But the priority is to do everything perfect for tomorrow and don't make anything from our side that stops us."

Alonso faced an investigation from the stewards after qualifying for holding up Esteban Gutierrez, but was cleared and will still start from fifth on the grid.

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