• Japanese Grand Prix - Qualifying

Alonso targeting podium at Suzuka

ESPNF1 Staff
October 8, 2011 « Schumacher brushes off final incident | Hamilton will not affect Massa »
Fernando Alonso: 'I don't think I could have done much better than my second run' © Sutton Images
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Fernando Alonso is confident of fighting for a podium at the Japanese Grand Prix if he can get a good start from fifth on the grid.

Alonso was outqualified by his team-mate Felipe Massa for just the third time this season, but will start from the clean side of the grid in fifth place. With the soft Pirelli tyres expected to last just 10-12 laps and the mediums around 20 laps, Alonso said strategy would be key to good result on Sunday.

"Tomorrow I expect significant tyre degradation to be a key feature of the race, with the possibility of several pit stops, which means strategy will play a very important role," he said. "We hope we won't have the same problems as in Singapore two weeks ago. We will try and make the best choices and fight for a podium finish, which is a realistic target. The win is certainly less so: as we saw in qualifying, McLaren seem very close to Red Bull here. The start will also be an important moment: both myself and Felipe will try and put pressure on those closest to us and then, if we happen to make up some places we will try and have our say."

Alonso said he had expected to qualify behind the Red Bulls and McLarens at Suzuka and is therefore satisfied with fifth place ahead of Mark Webber's Red Bull.

"I am not very surprised by this result: at the end of the day, McLaren and Red Bull have been quicker than us all weekend long and at least we have managed to get ahead of Webber," he added. "I seem to have a season ticket for fifth place this year and at least it means I start from the clean side of the track."

On his first qualifying run in Q3 Alonso ran wide at the Spoon corner, but he said his second flying lap was the best he could muster, despite being slower than Massa.

"My first run in Q3? I was pushing to the maximum but, after looking at the lap time analysis, I don't think I could have done much better than my second run."