Alonso: Ferrari not there yet
Spaniard unsure if team have made quite as much progress as grid suggests
Last Updated: 13/05/12 8:26am
Fernando Alonso believes his second place on the grid in Barcelona proves Ferrari have made a step forward - although suspects the position may slightly flatter the team.
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The Italian marque had rolled out a number of updates in Friday's practice session - including a new floor and rear wing - yet many observers in the paddock admitted they had expected a more radical overhaul of the F2012 given the scale of the team's underperformance in the early races this term.
Alonso had himself played down the likely impact of the updates for this weekend but said that only after Saturday's qualifying session - in which he finished third before being promoted on account of Lewis Hamilton's demotion - could a more measured assessment of the team's improvements be made.
The surprising result, in an unpredictable session, was Ferrari's best grid result on merit since last July's British Grand Prix and asked in the post-qualifying press conference if it proved the team had made a clear step forward, the Spaniard replied: "Yeah, I think so.
"Obviously for us it was even impossible to dream about being in top three the first four races. We just arrived in Q3 with not new sets [of tyres] left, so definitely it's a step forward.
"The grid is so compact now if you improve two or three tenths it makes a huge difference in terms of position - five or six positions.
"So definitely we did a step forward."
The ever realistic two-time World Champion, however, suspects that, with rival drivers adopting different tyre strategies and big names like Jenson Button and Mark Webber falling at the second qualifying hurdle, Ferrari may not quite have made as much progress as the grid suggests.
Nonetheless, he credits the position to a "perfect" lap and is now looking to make the most of the strong grid slot in front of his home fans on Sunday.
"I still doubt how much we did because maybe P3 is a little bit overperforming what we can do at the moment, but I'm extremely happy with the lap," Alonso admitted.
"It was perfect. I don't think there is much more to come: I could put on 100 more sets of tyres and repeat the lap time probably so it is the way it is.
"So I'm extremely happy for today and hopefully we capitalise this good starting position tomorrow with a good result."