Fernando Alonso not giving up on title but says he needs "chaotic" race from seventh
While title rival Vettel says he'll only be looking forwards from fourth
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 25/11/12 10:25am
For the third successive event, the championship-chasing Ferrari driver will start from outside the top five after his F2012's lack of single-lap speed relative to the McLarens and Red Bulls, along with several other teams, manifested itself in only eighth on the grid - which became seventh following Pastor Maldonado's grid demotion.
However, for the second successive weekend, Felipe Massa suggested there was more pace in the F2012 than Alonso managed to extract as the Brazilian lapped over two tenths of a second faster to claim a more prosperous fifth on the grid. As a result, the Brazilian will start one place behind his team-mate's title rival Sebastian Vettel.
Yet Saturday struggles have become standard fare for Alonso over the season and, speaking to Sky Sports F1 after the final qualifying session of the campaign, he was quick to insist that all is not yet lost.
"Happy with the lap, happy with how qualifying went," reported Fernando. "We were seventh in Abu Dhabi, we were ninth in USA, we are eighth here so no surprises from that.
"We finished on the podium in the last races starting in those positions so hopefully tomorrow we can repeat the performance and can be on the podium."
Irrespective of where Vettel ends up on Sunday, Alonso must at least finish on the podium to have any hope of beating his Red Bull rival to the title.
But with the McLarens and Red Bulls out of reach on Saturday at least, Alonso acknowledged he needed as many variables - such as the forecast rain - as possible to affect the race.
"We need some chaotic race in a way to mix a little bit the positions in a way and maybe the rain can help. But we never know," he said.
"We need to push to the maximum, enjoy the rce and, as I said, try to be on the podium."
Meanwhile, in the blue corner, Vettel experienced a less than straightforward Q3 of his own after a mistake on his first flying lap in the final stage put him under pressure for the decisive final runs.
A tidier lap followed but it was still only good enough for fourth, the German outqualified by his team-mate Mark Webber. The World Champion hinted to Sky Sports F1 afterwards that his earlier error had forced him to take a more measured approach to his final effort than normal.
Put to him that he was still four places ahead of Alonso, Vettel replied: "Obviously that's one way to look at it, but overall I think we can be pretty happy.
"It was quite close and I would have loved to have done a little bit better job in Q3. I did a mistake on the first run, the second run was quite good, but it was most important to get a lap in.
"So I think there was a little bit left on the table but for tomorrow, it's a long race, a lot of things that can happen."
Vettel also appeared unflustered about the fact Alonso's wingman Massa will start so close to him on the grid, the World Champion making clear his sights would still be trained forwards and on clinching his third straight title with a victory.
"I think if you look in the neighbourhood there's always going to be cars around you so I think it would be boring if it was just me on the grid, or just someone else," he said.
"So that's pretty normal, nothing unusual, and we obviously have mirrors on the car but we don't try to use them too much. Our eyes are heading at the front and our target is to win."