'Super happy' Fernando Alonso relieved to secure fourth after Daniil Kvyat clash
Spaniard reveals F14 T's handling still wasn't the best after repairs
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 30/03/14 12:32pm
Fernando Alonso said he had never been so happy with fourth place on the grid after admitting he was fortunate to complete qualifying after damaging his Ferrari in contract with an "aggressive" Daniil Kvyat.
The Spaniard came together with the Toro Rosso rookie - who was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing by the stewards - during the second phase of the the rain-hit Sepang qualifying session, Kvyat attempting to pass Alonso up the inside of Turn Nine but instead hitting the side of the F14 T as the Ferrari came across to take the corner.
The impact broke part of the Ferrari's front-left suspension, and although it initially looked as though Alonso wouldn't be back out on track and therefore drop out in Q2, the team's mechanics made full use of the resultant red-flag period to repair the car and send it back on its way.
From there Alonso went on to claim fourth on the grid behind the two Mercedes' and Sebastian Vettel - just his second second-row start in the last 11 months - and admitted he was very relieved to be starting so high up, particularly as the car was still not perfect to drive.
"The mechanics did a fantastic job," Alonso told Sky Sports F1..
"I have to say that the car was not totally repaired - the steering on the right was so light, on the left it was so heavy. It was very strange to drive but enough to complete the qualifying.
"I'm super happy with this qualifying. Probably the biggest smile on the fourth position in my career.
"But not enough, we need to do better next time. Obviously avoid any incidents that cost even a little bit of the qualifying positions, [which would have happened on Saturday] if we could not be able to repair it."
Alonso still nearly pipped Rosberg to third on the grid
With stewards deciding to look at his tangle with Kvyat after the session, Alonso, while admitting he hadn't known the Russian was inside him, frowned on the youngster's driving given it was an outlap in teeming rain.
"I didn't see him coming. Obviously it was a bit of an aggressive drive on the outlap with this kind of visibility, but we were lucky enough to put the car together," Alonso added.
After Ferrari expressed disappointment with their performance at the season-opener in Melbourne, the F14 T looked more competitive relative to Mercedes in the dry race simulations on Friday. The Mercedes pair, however, held a one-second pace advantage in final practice.
Alonso, a three-times winner at Sepang, is optimistic things won't be as bad as that and insisted that Ferrari would do everything they can to pressurise Mercedes, particularly with Australia showing the Brackley team's reliability is not yet as strong as their outright pace.
"We will push the maximium tomorrow. If it's dry or if it's wet we need to put some pressure on them," he said in his later press briefing with reporters.
"It's also not 100% sure that the cars will finish again. Everybody was very concerned in Australia and we cannot now be so relaxed about finishing the race just two weeks after. We saw one of these Mercedes, who are very dominant at the moment, retire in lap one from Hamilton.
"So we need to be there tomorrow, we need to put pressure and try to make them not have an easy race. But at the same time we need to be realistic and know that it's probably going to be difficult for us to keep that pace."