Fernando Alonso believes Ferrari can be optimistic of a stronger than expected Abu Dhabi Grand Prix following a promising start on Friday.
Alonso finished the day as third quickest behind the two McLarens despite losing track time as a result of a crash in the afternoon. The Ferrari driver said his car was stronger than he was expecting before the running started.
"It's only Friday and we'll have to see what we can do, but maybe we are a bit more optimistic than we were yesterday because the car behaved well," said Alonso. "Maybe our position in Q3 will not change much compared to the previous races, but we hope to be closer to them than we were expecting."
He conceded, however, that victory may be too far away, and he reckons a podium is a more realistic target.
"Yeah, the win is still extremely difficult," he added. "I don't think that has changed with today's practice.
"As I said before, we are a bit more optimistic because we thought we'd be far from the leaders, and although it's still early we have felt good and the times came pretty easily. So maybe tomorrow we are still on the third row of the grid but a lot closer than we expected. If that is the case, then there are a lot more possibilities for the race, especially for the podium, which is always the main target. But the victory maybe it's too far away."
The Spaniard, who crashed during second practice when he lost control of his car at Turn 1, played down the time lost as a consequence of the accident.
"It didn't affect us much. We lost some 20 minutes but, fortunately, Felipe could complete the program and what we wanted to see, which is the tire degradation with a heavy fuel load we have all the data from Felipe [Massa]. So I don't think it affected us much."