The Spaniard sits fifth in the drivers' championship, 30 points behind Vettel, and he told the Ferrari website he was not expecting to catch the flying German.
SHANGHAI, April 14, 2011 (AFP) - Fernando Alonso has said reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel is "out of reach" as Ferrari attempt to get their 2011 season back on track at this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.
Two-time world champion Alonso has only managed fourth and sixth places in the opening races this year despite pre-season testing indicating his Ferrari would be able to match the pace of the Red Bull.
The Spaniard sits fifth in the drivers' championship, 30 points behind Vettel heading into this weekend's race in Shanghai, and he told the Ferrari website he was not expecting to catch the flying German.
"Clearly, I would like to always be fighting for the win but, at the moment, one car, Vettel's Red Bull, seems to be out of reach," Alonso said.
"Our aim in this Grand Prix will be similar to the one in Malaysia, which means to make the best of qualifying and try to exploit any opportunity that comes our way during the race."
Alonso, the 2005 and 2006 champion for Renault, said an improved qualifying performance in Shanghai on Saturday holds the key to Ferrari's improvement.He has started from fifth on the grid in both races this season, while Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa was eighth on the grid in Australia and seventh last weekend in Malaysia.
"As we had already seen in Australia, once again in Malaysia our race pace was much better than that in qualifying," Alonso said."In Sepang, both Felipe and I were running at a pace good enough to get to the podium and that was an important indication, even if we did not end up getting all we could have done."
Alonso had a difficult race in Malaysia, with the Drag Reduction System (DRS) on the rear wing of his car not working in the latter stages. He also clashed with former McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton in the final laps, which led to a 20-second post-race penalty for causing an avoidable collision with the British driver.