Fernando Alonso says he was not surprised not to be able to fight for pole position at the German Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver, the winner of the previous race in Britain, qualified down in fourth position, nearly four tenths of a second behind Red Bull's Mark Webber. Despite not being able to fight for a place on the front row, Alonso said he was happy with his performance.
"We are neither surprised nor disappointed, quite the contrary in fact," said Alonso. "This grid is more or less what we could have expected, from what we had seen in free practice yesterday.
"We thought the Red Bulls would be three or four tenths faster than us and that was the case and then even Hamilton went very well, especially in the first sector and got in between us. In fact, McLaren had so many new parts here and you could see they were working well.
"I am happy with my lap and with the result and anyway, this year we have seen that we have always gone better in the race than in qualifying."
The Spaniard is still hopeful he will get a chance to win tomorrow's race, but admitted Ferrari needs another step forward in order to match the pace of its rivals.
"Maybe tomorrow the situation could turn around, you never know. I am still aiming for the podium, but if the chance of a win comes along I won't need to be asked twice. Also at this track, we have seen the updates we have introduced helping to improve our performance, race after race. Clearly, we must take a further step forward if we want to be up there with the best."
Teammate Felipe Massa qualified in fifth, albeit around half a second off Alonso's pace, and the Brazilian admitted he was not entirety happy with his day, especially after finishing behind Lewis Hamilton.
"I can't claim to be completely happy with this qualifying, because some cars were faster than ours," he said. "That might not be surprising in the case of the Red Bulls, but it definitely is the case with Hamilton's McLaren.
"Tomorrow, we will aim to make our usual step forward in the race, but we know it won't be easy. Sure, if it had been 50 degrees warmer, I would not have complained! Especially with the medium tire, we struggled a bit and that's why I used my first set of softs right from Q1."