April 19th, 2014 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Ferrari's Fernando Alonso is hoping to finish close to the podium in Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix. The Spaniard qualified fifth, behind the Mercedes and Red Bull drivers. In the other Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen had a difficult qualifying session, ending up 11th fastest.
Ferrari have been going through a difficult start to the 2014 season. The F14 T has not lived up to expectations, but is improving as the season progresses. Alonso has managed to make the most of a tough situation, finishing in the points in every race thus far, which puts him fourth in the championship at this early stage of the season.
In today's qualifying session, Alonso delivered yet again, getting the maximum out of his Ferrari in tricky wet conditions to be best-of-the-rest behind the two strongest teams in the field.
Alonso described his qualifying session:
“When it rains you never know how things will turn out as track conditions can get worse lap after lap and so that’s one reason for me to be pleased with the way qualifying went.
"Fifth place means I can start with the lead group and if I can stay with the leaders we can finish close to the podium. The opening laps will count for a lot therefore and we must try our absolute best to get a good start and to avoid battles, which in the last few races have seen us lose ground. Yesterday, the car was more competitive and that means we can hope for a better race than in the last three.
Alonso confirmed that his team is getting to grips with their 2014 car and finding some more speed. He said:
"I think that here in China, we have taken the first step towards improving; the car behaved well in all areas and is performing better on the aerodynamic front, thanks to the small updates we have introduced here and we have more power, having revised some settings on the power unit.
"Certainly, we are still a long way off the pace of the leaders, because they too are progressing, but we can hope to fight for better positions and more points.”
While Alonso came out of qualifying quite well, Raikkonen in the other Ferrari had a more difficult session. He explained:
“The past two days have been difficult, because after yesterday’s technical problem, this morning I also only did a single run, but overall, I felt more comfortable in the car.
"Unfortunately, on my last run in Q2, when I was on my quick lap, I lost a lot of time in the final sector and that meant I didn’t make the cut to Q3. The car’s handling was inconsistent, as it was stable in some parts of the track and less so in others. I had some problems with the balance and this had an effect on my performance.
"It’s too early to say what happened, but the time lost yesterday definitely didn’t help. Now I want to concentrate on tomorrow’s race and try my best to end this weekend with a good result.”