Fernando Alonso says Ferrari cannot rely on mistakes from its rivals to hold on to the championship lead. The Spaniard is starting ahead of several of his closest title rivals in Belgium.
Alonso qualified sixth but will gain a place from Pastor Maldonado's grid penalty. Among his championship challengers, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel were only seventh, eighth and 11th respectively, while Webber will receive a five-place gearbox-change penalty.
Asked if mistakes from his rivals would help him in the title race, Alonso said Ferrari had to improve its car rather than count on others underperforming.
"I think the aim is to improve the car because we know one is the gearbox [Webber] and then maybe Hamilton not making the most of the car today," he said. "Some circuits are better for some cars and some for others but on that narrow line we are too slow. So if we want to win the championship we need to be quicker and improve the car. That is what we have to do now and our maximum concentration and effort is to do so."
Alonso thinks a podium is the most he can achieve in the race, and will be satisfied to keep his title rivals behind.
"I think realistically the podium is the maximum target for us," he said. "The victory is out of reach I think because we were not quick in qualifying and the distance to Jenson [Button] is a little bit too much so we need to be honest with ourselves and maybe the podium is the maximum target.
"The most important thing is to try and finish in front of the other drivers for the championship and we have a good opportunity because Hamilton, Webber and Vettel start behind us. If we can maintain this tomorrow it will be a fantastic Sunday."