Fernando Alonso: “We have made a Step Forward”

It was a much happier day for the Prancing Horse team in Singapore, with both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen showing a good turn of pace for Ferrari around the Marina Bay street circuit; Alonso qualified fifth and Raikkonen seventh.

Alonso was delighted to qualify as close as he has all season to the front of the grid, even if that still saw him down in fifth. He was expecting to drop away from the pace like the team have made a habit of this season, but was pleasantly surprised to be in the battle for pole position.

“If you had told me yesterday that we would still be competitive in qualifying, probably I wouldn’t have believed it,” said Alonso. “And in fact this fifth place is a bit different to usual, because the gap to pole is really small.

“This weekend, I’ve felt comfortable right from the first session and probably much of that is down to the characteristics of the track. It’s impossible to compare it to other races, because this one and Monaco are a law unto themselves. But definitely, we have made a step forward since the start of the season and I’m sure the car will continue to improve right the way to the end.

“Tomorrow’s race will be long and very demanding from a mechanical point of view. Reliability will play a key role as will tyre management, which could make a big difference.”

Team-mate Raikkonen felt happier in his Ferrari than he had been for the majority of the season during qualifying, and even topped the first part of the session. He felt it was a shame that he could not maximise his qualifying position after an engine problem in Q3, but starting from seventh, he is hoping for a good haul of points on Sunday.

“I’m very happy with the handling of my car,” said Raikkonen. “Yesterday, we made some changes to the set-up and in qualifying; I finally managed to drive the way I wanted. Unfortunately, in Q3, on my final run on new Supersoft tyres, a problem forced me to pit. It’s a real shame as I felt comfortable in the car and we had the potential to get a good result.

“Now I want to feel confident for the race and I hope the team manages to solve the problem without too much difficulty. Tomorrow, we will do our best to bring home as many points as possible, aware that we are going in the right direction.”