Fernando Alonso admits historic victory in Monaco GP is "very unlikely" from sixth
Spaniard struggles to find efficient set-up in difficult qualifying session
By James Galloway in Monaco and Pete Gill. Last Updated: 25/05/13 5:38pm
Fernando Alonso has all-but ruled out winning Sunday's Monaco GP from sixth on the grid after struggling to find his F138's sweet spot around the twists and turns of Monte Carlo.
Although Alonso hadn't been expected to challenge for pole position, the extent of his struggles during Saturday's qualifying session still came as a surprise, with the Ferrari reduced to the field's fourth-fastest car behind the dominant Mercedes W04s, the two Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, and the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen.
With overtaking notoriously difficult on race day at Monaco, Alonso has already switched focus from his ambition of becoming the first driver to win at Monaco with three different teams to finding a way to beat both Vettel and Raikkonen, the only two drivers ahead of him in the World Championship, to the chequered flag.
"The chances of a win? Of course in Formula 1 nothing is impossible, but it's very unlikely I think that we fight for the victory starting sixth in Monaco," the Spaniard conceded. "Our second target is to finish ahead of our competitors in the championship - which is Kimi and Sebastian at this moment.
"But we will see. We saw the GP2 start and we know [there are] safety car possibilities here any lap. So there are many factors that might go wrong, the same as today. It was a very different qualifying, very difficult to interpret which tyres to put on.
"We know Mercedes, Lotus, Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari were competitive. Also Force India and we saw di Resta out of Q1 in a very competitive weekend. We saw Grosjean out of Q2 in a very competitive weekend.
"There were many possibilities to get it wrong today and I think there will not be many possibilities to get it right tomorrow because there is nothing to do on the strategy and the pace. But there is many things that can go wrong so we need to avoid all of those."
With Felipe Massa unable to participate in the session after a heavy crash during Practice Three, Alonso ran in qualifying as the sole Ferrari representative. The team's day was later summed up by a fine of €1000 being meted out against the Spaniard for speeding in the pitlane, but it was Alonso's lack of pace out on track which was of greatest concern.
"It's a very unique track and you need to have a completely different set-up here: different ride heights, different system geometries and suspension rake - everything changes on the car for Monaco so it doesn't mean that the cars that have been competitive during the season have to be competitive here.
"There are always some good surprises or some bad surprises and maybe this year we didn't interpret good enough what was required for Monaco with the 2013 tyres or whatever," Alonso accepted.
"I think we need to understand it better because Thursday we were not the fastest but we were not as bad as today because we were a little bit more competitive. Today we lost some ground maybe in the temperature or whatever and we felt less competitive. This morning, we had a different set-up just to have no doubts we went back to the Thursday set-up for qualifying and it was still not very competitive.
"So we need to understand it. We were both cars in the podium in Barcelona and this morning before the qualifying we were P9 and P11 so definitely we today we were not at our best."