Fernando Alonso is expecting a difficult Malaysian Grand Prix weekend for Ferrari after a slow start to the weekend in Friday practice. The Spaniard, who was fourth in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, finished the afternoon session in ninth position, over 1.7sec off the pace set by Mark Webber's Red Bull. Alonso's teammate Felipe Massa was 1.2sec off Webber's best.
The two-time champion conceded that, even if it's only Friday, things are not looking great for the Italian squad.
"We'll see tomorrow where we are, but we weren't too fast today and we are not expecting miracles for tomorrow," Alonso said. "We know it will be a difficult qualifying, a difficult weekend and we will try our best to be as close as possible to the leaders so in the race, with the start, the tire wear, the strategy, the possibility of rain, we can take any opportunity to be on the podium, which is still the target every weekend."
He added: "I'm aware that we are lacking speed. Even if it's only Friday, the feeling is that they are pretty quick, especially Red Bull, so fighting for pole is difficult. But we'll try to do our best and also look at the weather. We'll see what the track conditions are and we'll try to take every opportunity that arises."
Still, the Ferrari driver believes qualifying won't be all that relevant for race form anyway:
"I think it will be a race where qualifying is going to have a much lesser importance that in other circuits," he said. "First because of the tire wear and the amount of pit stops we'll have to do, and second because of the possibility of rain on Sunday."