Fernando Alonso is not surprised with the qualifying results although he is pleased to be ahead of Mark Webber on the grid for the 2011 Japanese Grand Prix.
“I am not very surprised by this result,” Alonson commented. “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. 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.
“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. 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. 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.â€
Felipe Massa is also happy to have out-qualified one of the Red Bulls.
“It was a difficult qualifying session but at least we managed to keep one of the four best cars behind us,” Massa said. “It’s never easy here to put together the perfect lap and my last run was very good, even if I lost a little bit in the final sector. Tomorrow, it will be important to get a good start.
“Hamilton alongside me on the grid? It makes no difference to me if it’s him or anyone else. The race looks like being a complicated one, with a lot of stops to change tyres that show significant degradation here, so it follows that strategy will play a key role. It will be vital to find the right pace, so as to be quick, but at the same time, save the tyres. Overtaking will not be easy, despite KERS and DRS: maybe tyre wear will count for more, given that you come onto the main straight off a very slow chicane. Our aim is the podium: we’re starting one place off it, so it’s a realistic expectation.â€