A surprised Fernando Alonso said Ferrari had reason to be happy about its performance despite missing out on pole position for the German Grand Prix.
The Spaniard was beaten by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel by just 0.002sec, the German denying the Maranello squad its first pole since the 2008 season. Alonso was nonetheless delighted with the result, which he admits was a step forward for the Italian squad.
"I think we have to be happy," said Alonso, who hadn't started from the front row since last year's Hungarian Grand Prix. "We are in the first row for the first time this season so that is definitely a step forward for us.
"We have been competitive all weekend, I'm very confident with the car. I was very happy with the car in Q1, Q2 and Q3.
"Finally we made a perfect Saturday. Obviously we lost pole position by a small margin, but the points are tomorrow not Saturday so we need to stay focused for tomorrow. The target is a good day tomorrow after a good day today. We'll try to score good points tomorrow."
The two-time champion said he was not expecting to be so close to Red Bull in Q3, the team having dominated qualifying this season.
"No, not really," said Alonso. "We always expect the Red Bulls in Q3 to give something more. We saw this is very close in free practice but then in Q3 they are far away. We were surprised to be that close and finally fighting for a pole position after 10 races. It took a bit longer but now we are very close."
Teammate Felipe Massa completed Ferrari's strongest qualifying of the year with third position.
"I think it was a good performance from us," said Massa. "It was a very tough qualifying. In Q3 I could not put all the sectors together. I am happy to be back in Q3 and more focused for the race tomorrow. I hope we can do a good job and score many points for the team and myself."