Ferrari's Fernando Alonso says ninth place in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix was the best he could achieve with the F2012, but is hoping for a more positive outcome from this afternoon's race.
So difficult was it to progress in qualifying, he had to fit a set of the medium tyres during Q1 and again in Q2, completing two runs in each session. That left him with only one new set of the quicker medium tyres for Q3 which he used to beat Sauber's Sergio Pérez to ninth place.
“Qualifying went well for us. Again we struggled in Q1, we had to put medium in Q1. Then in Q2, very difficult to go through again,” he said after qualifying. “And then in Q3 obviously impossible to fight with the top guys so we did one lap and it was enough to be in Pérez which was the only target we had.
“I think we need to work a lot. Even if the result is the maximum we can achieve now, it's not enough for our expectation so we need to improve quickly. In Melbourne we saw a better pace in the race than all weekend so hopefully tomorrow we can see some kind of performance from our car.”
He admitted keeping tyre degradation in check would be crucial for success during today's race, but having encountered greater degradation compared to his rivals in Melbourne, he double world champion is not overly confident.
“We know the degradation is quite high here in Sepang with the heat etc, plus our in the winter testing and Melbourne maybe had a little more degradation than our main competitors, so it will be a tough race,” he added. “We start 8th with Kimi tenth so he's much quicker than us. It will be tough. The race normally puts us in a better place so I hope we repeat the performance.”
Although he qualified ninth, Kimi Räikkönen's five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change promotes him to eighth place. Team-mate Felipe Massa starts the race in 12th.