- Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Qualifying
Perfect race will yield podium - Alonso
Fernando Alonso believes he can score a podium at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but only if Ferrari puts together a perfect performance.
Alonso qualified fifth on Saturday, behind the Red Bulls and McLarens, but is confident his Ferrari will be closer to the frontrunners on race pace.
"We are more or less where we expected to be going into the session," he said. "It's not because this is the eighth time out of eighteen qualifying sessions that I have ended up fifth. It's that, all year long, with a few rare exceptions, McLaren and Red Bull are stronger than us on Saturday, while on Sunday the situation is usually different, with the gaps between us being much closer. We know we can fight for the podium, but to succeed, we will have to do everything perfectly, beginning with the start and our strategy."
In order to bolster his chances on Sunday, Alonso considered saving soft tyres in qualifying but opted against it in the end.
"In Q3, I thought of doing just one run, but then the first one was not perfect and we preferred to try everything right to the end. I don't think it would have made such a difference having a new set of tyres tomorrow, also because the degradation does not seem that high. Maybe the best time could have come on the second or third flying lap, but going down that route would have compromised our strategy, as we would have to start on tyres that were more worn than those of our rivals. I will start from the clean side of the track and hope to make up some places: the first lap is a good window of opportunity."
An ongoing back story at Ferrari in recent races has been the development of a new front wing for 2012, which, on Felipe Massa's car at least, has caught attention by flexing wildly. Ferrari reverted to a Singapore-spec wing on Massa's car ahead of qualifying but kept the new one on Alonso's car.
"The front wing?" Alonso asked himself. "Mine worked well all weekend, but the team decided to move back with Felipe. In one sense it's positive, because we will have an even greater amount of data to compare in order to get a good understanding of this new component. Tomorrow it will be interesting to see how the tyres will behave from the start to the finish of the race, as the temperature drops."