Fernando Alonso believes a podium finish is possible after qualifying fourth on the grid for the Japanese Grand Prix following Lewis Hamilton's five-place grid drop.
The Ferrari driver, who won the last two races to move to second in the championship behind Mark Webber, is seeking to limit the damage a dominant weekend from Red Bull would have on his title aspirarions.
"I think it is always difficult to predict what will happen on a different circuit, coming from Singapore," he said. "We knew McLaren brought some improvements to the car, we knew Red Bull finished on the podium at Spa, so on this type of track they are quite competitive. So we expected some difficulties. Starting fourth on the grid we limited the damage of qualifying and in the race I'm sure that a podium is possible."
Alonso added that his first task would be to get past Robert Kubica's Renault, after the Pole cemented his strong practice form with third on the grid.
"The first priority is to take Robert as soon as possible, if we can do it at the start that is better, but we will see," said Alonso. "Then around the pit stops, if not at the start. We need to pressure Red Bull, we know they are very quick, but if we put some pressure then maybe it will cause a mistake. We will see, at the moment they are very dominant this weekend."
Alonso's teammate Felipe Massa will start 11th after failing to make Q3, and afterward the Brazilian blamed slower cars for his poor grid slot: "I had quite a bit of traffic on my most important lap and this took me out of Q3. It was a shame because for sure we would have been fighting up there."