Fernando Alonso believes he is having to contend with the genius of Red Bull's chief technical officer Adrian Newey just as much as he is the brilliance of Sebastian Vettel.
While Red Bull sealed its third straight front-row sweep in qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix – at which Vettel is also chasing a fourth consecutive victory – Alonso could only manage fifth. The Ferrari driver reckons Red Bull's recent run, during which time Vettel has turned a 42-point deficit to the Spaniard into a six-point lead, owes as much to Newey as it does to Vettel.
"At the moment we are not fighting against Sebastian only," Alonso said following qualifying. "We are also fighting against Newey let's say – [the team] has finished first or second in the last four races. It is not so easy to fight, especially on Saturday, but on Sunday we are normally more competitive.
"Tomorrow we need to overtake McLaren as soon as possible and put pressure on Red Bull to wait for a little mistake, a pit stop problem, reliability or something. If they [Red Bull] can start, go away and have an easy race, that's the worst news for us."
Despite Alonso facing the prospect of surrendering yet more ground to Vettel in the 2012 title fight, he insisted he was not disheartened by his third row grid slot.
"I think its our normal position, behind Red Bull and McLaren," he said. "Even if it looks disappointing I think its our normal position and at the end of the day we have to [make] it - Force India and Kimi were quite fast so you could end up eighth or ninth very quickly. Fifth is our position and a good start position for tomorrow."
Teammate Felipe Massa, who starts directly alongside Alonso in sixth, echoed the Spaniard's thoughts.
"I think so," he replied when asked if sixth was fair. "Red Bull showed they are very strong, McLaren are a bit quicker than us and then we are there behind them. I hope the car is stronger in the race than in qualifying so we can fight with guys in front.
"I lost couple of tenths on my lap, but don't think it would change a lot."