Fernando Alonso says he was happy to be fifth on the grid and ‘best of the rest’ in Malaysia after struggling on Friday.
Alonso was ninth in both sessions yesterday as he tried to find a balance, but was much more comfortable with the car after making some set-up changes through the course of Saturday. He’s also pleased to be starting on the clean side of the grid.
“I’m extremely happy with the result today,” said the Spaniard. “Yesterday we suffered a little bit with the pace and the balance of the car. We made a lot of changes overnight, and the car felt much better today.
“Also we made another big change before qualifying, and the car improved again in qualifying, so I was much more comfortable driving now the car in these conditions, this set-up. We were expecting more problems in qualifying, or a worse position. I think if we finish the race, we will be on the podium.
Alonso says it’s clear that that the team needs to improve the car, but is confident that it will get better.
“Some teams maybe did a better job than us at the moment in these first races. Unfortunately we were not quick enough in Australia, not quick enough here to fight for pole. China is in five days so I expect a difficult weekend as well. We’ll see.
“At the moment this is what we have, and we need to score as many points as possible every weekend, and maybe tomorrow with the weather conditions things can change in the race. We need to maximise and take any opportunity that gives us.
“I’m very optimistic for the championship chances. This is a long championship, many races, many things can happen. Last year it’s true that we struggled in some races. I remember Turkey, I was out of Q3, I was P13, then one week later we fight for the pole position in Monaco [Monaco was actually two weeks earlier, but you get the idea!]
“We have to be really concentrated. There is no secret, we need to improve, we must improve, for the next coming races, because we were not quick enough at the moment. But also we have to remain very calm and very focussed, because the championship is very long.
“We did only one race, and in that race we finished in front of Button, in front of Webber. We’ll see tomorrow what is the final position, but in one lap pace, we are not quick enough.”