• Chinese Grand Prix - Qualifying

Alonso encouraged by race pace

ESPN Staff
April 13, 2013 « Final corner mistake cost Rosberg | Massa expected more in qualifying »
Fernando Alonso: "I think the race pace is normally better so I don't see any change here" © Sutton Images

Fernando Alonso expects to have the race pace to challenge for victory from third on the grid in the Chinese Grand Prix.

Despite being comfortable quickest in FP3, Alonso could only qualify third behind Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen at Shanghai. However, Alonso is confident that Ferrari will produce its usual step forward in performance in the race but admits he is concerned about Raikkonen's ability to look after tyres.

"I think the race pace is normally better so I don't see any change here compared to any other race," Alonso said. "I expect tomorrow to have a good position in the race fighting for the podium and hopefully for the win. I think especially with Kimi we will have a strong opponent because normally Lotus and him is one of the best at taking care of the tyres and tomorrow we know the tyres is going to be the key factor.

"Pitting first is obviously going to be an advantage in terms of pace but it's going to be a disadvantage in terms of traffic. You'll be in the middle of many cars that will probably be going longer; cars that are starting in 11th will go longer with the prime, also people like [Sebastian] Vettel and [Jenson] Button will be longer with the prime so it's something that we need to be very flexible in the strategy and very clever and hopefully take the best chance."

Alonso also said he was happy with the way Ferrari's weekend had gone so far, especially with his team-mate Felipe Massa being competitive too.

"I'm very happy; the weekend has been very good for us. The car felt competitive from Friday, this morning we made some changes and the car was responding well. I think we have a good setup for the race as well - which is always more important than qualifying - and I think tomorrow if everything goes well I think we should be able to fight for the podium and hopefully with both cars, so this is good news for the team."