Fernando Alonso has said that he is aiming to finish on the podium after qualifying fourth for Ferrari‘s most important race of the season: the Italian Grand Prix.
The Spaniard warns that a repeat of last-year’s victory, however, will be ‘very difficult’, but is hoping that the Tifosi will have a result to celebrate tomorrow.
“Fourth place is possibly my most common result in qualifying this season, so I definitely cannot be surprised at this performance,” said Alonso, who has actually qualified fifth the same number of times (five) as he has qualified fourth in 2011. “Usually, in the race we go better than in qualifying, therefore this grid position could provide the basis for a podium finish, which is our realistic target for tomorrow afternoon.”
“Fighting for the win? I think it will be very difficult, even if this year's races have often thrown up surprises. I will try to make up some places at the start, which could make the race even more interesting.
“It was not easy to find the right balance on the car this weekend. We made a lot of changes to the set-up after each session and again this morning we were not satisfied. Then unexpectedly, in qualifying, the car improved and was more stable under braking and easier to drive, to the extent that we were always in the top four or five positions in each session.
“Clearly the higher temperatures helped, otherwise we would not be just a few hundredths off the McLarens, after being over two seconds away in Spa qualifying. We hope it will be equally hot tomorrow: it would be great to get a result to delight all our fans who will be in the grandstands.”
Team-mate Felipe Massa is also hoping for a podium position but acknowledges that, from sixth on the grid, that could be difficult to achieve.
“All things considered, it was a good qualifying, though definitely not an easy one, because we knew there were some very quick cars out there,” said the Brazilian. “The result is pretty much in line with our expectations going into the session. We worked well, trying to fine tune the car in one session after the next.
“In Q3, on my final run, I had got a good tow behind Michael, but then, I pushed a bit too much and lost precious time at the second chicane and the Lesmo corner. Maybe I could have been one or two places further up, but definitely nothing more than that.
“Tomorrow, I expect the race will be very close and difficult and rear tyre degradation will be one of the key factors. As usual, strategy will be decisive and I hope I can do well. This is a very important event for Ferrari and we are keen to give our fans something to cheer about. The target? A place on the podium, but I know it will be very difficult.”
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said that the team tried their best today and congratulated rival Sebastian Vettel on his pole position today.
“First and foremost, congratulations to Sebastian who produced an incredibile pole lap: how lucky this is a track where they were not considered to be the favouritesâ€¦,” he said. “We tried to do our best, aware that we did not have the best car. The team worked very well throughout the session, trying to get the most out of the package at our disposal.
“Obviously, we are keen to do well at our home race: our plan is to tackle it in attacking style. So far this has been a very busy weekend, from every point of view, but we know the key moment is yet to come.”