MONZA, Italy, September 7th, 2013 (F1Plus / AFP) - Fernando Alonso contradicted most paddock observers on Saturday when he said he was happy with Ferrari's tactics despite qualifying only fifth for the Italian Grand Prix.
The 32-year-old Spaniard had appeared earlier in the day to have been unimpressed with Ferrari's unsuccessful attempts at slipstreaming, according to team radio broadcasts during practice.
But Alonso insisted: "It was perfect. We planned to have Felipe (Massa) a little bit in front and he was helping me out on the straights. An extra tenth or something was thanks to him..."
To most, it looked as if Ferrari's bid to slipstream their cars had been a flop with Brazilian Massa ending up fourth on the grid and Alonso fifth.
It was expected that Alonso would have passed Massa, but Alonso was surprisingly bullish about his performance and his prospects.
"It was a very good qualifying for us. We were fighting with the top guys, finally, after some qualifying sessions where we were not so good," he explained.
"We had a good feeling at Spa as well, but then the rain came and it was not so good in Q3. Today we were better and we qualified at the front."
Alonso needs to beat defending triple world champion German Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, who took his fourth pole of the season ahead of teammate Australian Mark Webber, if he is to keep alive his title bid.
Vettel leads the championship with 197 points ahead of Alonso on 151 and Briton Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes on 139.
Hamilton qualified only 12th after running off the track during Q2 - ending his run of four straight poles.